Japan accuses Beijing of pushing East China Sea, South China Sea claims amid pandemic

Japan accuses Beijing of pushing East China Sea, South China Sea claims amid pandemic

  • Annual defence white paper describes ‘relentless’ intrusions in waters around Senkaku/Diaoyu islets and claims China spread coronavirus disinformation
  • Analysts say the superpower has become a longer-term and more serious threat to Japan than volatile nuclear-powered North Korea

Japan’s annual defence review accuses China of furthering its territorial claims in the East China Sea and is more strongly worded than in previous years, analysts said, highlighting how Beijing has become a longer-term and more serious threat than volatile and nuclear-armed North Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Tuesday approved a white paper that said, among other things, China was “continuing to attempt to alter the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea” and was spreading disinformation while providing medical aid to countries hit hard by Covid-19.The white paper described “relentless” intrusions by Chinese ships – despite protests by Japan – in waters around a group of islets claimed by both nations in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.

It also referred to China’s unilateral creation of two administrative districts in the South China Sea, in which Beijing has overlapping claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The two districts, named Xisha and Nansha, use the Chinese names for the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands, respectively.

The white paper came as Japan’s security ally, the US, issued a direct challenge to Beijing’s South China Sea claims, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issuing a statement to reject all Chinese claims beyond the 12-nautical mile territorial area around the Spratly Islands.