China’s foreign ministry summoned Japan’s ambassador in Beijing for an “emergency meeting” on Wednesday evening after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said neither his country nor the United States could stand by if China attacked Taiwan.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying called Abe’s remarks “erroneous” and a violation of basic norms of relations between China and Japan in the meeting with ambassador Hideo Tarumi, according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry.
Abe’s comments “openly challenged China’s sovereignty and gave brazen support to Taiwan independence forces”, it cited Hua as saying.
Speaking during a virtual address with the Institute for National Policy Research, a think-tank in Taiwan, Abe on Wednesday warned of the serious security and economic consequences of any Chinese military action against Taiwan and urged Beijing “not to step onto a wrong path”.
“Military adventure would lead to economic suicide,” the veteran politician added.
A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would constitute a significant threat to Japan and therefore “an emergency for the Japan-US alliance”, he said.
“People in Beijing, especially President Xi Jinping, should never have a misunderstanding in recognising this.”
Asked about the summons at a regular press briefing in Tokyo on Thursday, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Japan disagreed with China’s action as the Japanese government was not in a position to comment on remarks made by people not in the government.
“Ambassador Tarumi said … it is necessary for China to understand there are people in Japan who have such opinions and Japan cannot accept China’s one-sided views on such matters,” Matsuno said.
Abe, who stepped down as prime minister last year, is head of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and remains influential within the party.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its own territory and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island, which was once a Japanese colony.
Since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president in 2016, Beijing has become more assertive over its claims, and in October sent record numbers of military planes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.