Taiwan, Japan, China: A few developments


In the eastern Asia region, Taiwan has become a sensitive topic, especially as Japan, the U.S. and some other U.S. allies move closer to Taipei.

Relations with Taiwan is unofficial

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular news conference Friday that “Japan’s position is to maintain relations with Taiwan as those of practical and non-governmental” as stated in the 1972 Japan-China joint declaration.

Media reports said:

Japan’s relations with Taiwan are nongovernmental and practical and are based on Tokyo’s recognition of China as the sole legitimate government, Kato said, following China’s protest over a recent reference to the island as a country.

As China’s power increases, the issue of Taiwan is a sensitive topic, especially as Japan, the U.S. and other democracies develop closer ties with the self-ruled island that China regards as a renegade territory to be united by force if necessary.

Kato told a regular news conference Friday that “Japan’s position is to maintain working relations with Taiwan at the nongovernment level,” in line with the 1972 Japan-China Communique, when Tokyo switched the diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. “That’s our basic policy and there is no change to that.”

Kato’s remark came a day after China protested Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s reference to Taiwan as a country during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday.

Suga, while answering a question about pandemic measures, made a passing reference to Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia as “three countries.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Thursday the comment violated Japan’s “solemn promise to not regard Taiwan as a country.”

“We strongly deplore Japan’s erroneous remarks and have lodged solemn complaints with Japan, demanding that Japan immediately make clear clarifications to eliminate the adverse effects caused by relevant remarks, and to ensure that such situations will not happen again,” Wang said.

On Friday, Japan’s upper house of the parliament adopted a resolution calling on the World Health Organization to include Taiwan in its general meetings, saying its expertise on coronavirus measures is indispensable.

China has so far blocked the move, and has increased Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, leaving it with just over a dozen formal diplomatic allies. Taiwan still operates a network of trade offices around the world that act as de-facto embassies, including in the United States, Japan and most other major nations.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi carefully referred to Taiwan as “a region” in his brief remark emphasizing the importance of including the island for the benefit of international public health.

Japan also has donated 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan as it battles its largest outbreak of infections amid a shortage of jabs. Taiwan has blamed China for interfering in a potential deal for another vaccine.

China invites Taiwanese to come to get vaccinated against COVID-19

China’s government said on Friday that it welcomed Taiwanese to come and get vaccinated against COVID-19 and called on Taiwan to remove obstacles and allow its people to receive the “highly effective” Chinese shots.

Taiwan is China’s territory, which is ruled by the Kuomintang Party after it fled away from China in 1949.

China has repeatedly offered to send vaccines to the island, which is battling a spike in domestic infections but has expressed concern about the safety of Chinese shots and has not cleared them for use.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement two Chinese-made vaccines had been granted emergency use authorization by the World Health Organization and its shots were in use or approved by more than 90 countries, showing their safety and efficacy.

Taiwan people can come to China to get vaccinated against COVID-19, provided they strictly comply with China’s pandemic control measures, the office said.

It urged Taiwan to “quickly remove artificial obstacles for mainland vaccines being sent to Taiwan and allow the broad mass of Taiwan compatriots to receive the safe and highly effective mainland vaccines”.

About 62,000 Taiwanese had been vaccinated in China as of May 31, it added, though many Taiwanese live and work there already.

Only 3% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one shot, though millions of doses are on order. Japan donated 1.24 million AstraZeneca Plc shots last week and the U.S. has pledged 750,000 doses, which have yet to arrive.




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