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China summons Japan envoy over former PM Abe's comments on Taipei

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at the parliament building to attend a parliament session to face questioning over a possible violation of election funding laws, in Tokyo, Japan, on December 25, 2020. (File photo by Reuters)

China has summoned Japan’s ambassador to protest the "extremely erroneous" remarks made by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about Chinese Taipei.

In a statement on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Ambassador Hideo Tarumi to an emergency meeting to make stern representations to Japan, after Abe said neither Japan nor the United States could stand by if China attacked the self-governed island.

In the meeting, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying called Abe’s comments a gross interference in China’s internal affairs, adding that they are a violation of basic norms of relations between China and Japan, according to the statement.  

Hua went on to say that Abe’s comments "openly challenged China's sovereignty and gave brazen support” to the so-called independence forces in Taipei, stressing that “China is resolutely opposed to this.”

She added that Japan had “no right” to make “irresponsible” remarks on the issue, given its history of aggression against China.

Earlier in the day, Abe told a virtual forum organized by a Taiwanese think tank earlier that an armed invasion of Taipei would pose a grave danger to Japan.

“A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US alliance,” he said.

In response to the summons, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular press briefing in Tokyo on Thursday that 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.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. Beijing therefore opposes other countries pursuing ties with the self-ruled island.

In recent months, China has been flying fighter jets close to Chinese Taipei while the US has reportedly had troops deployed in the territory for the past year for alleged training purposes.

The United States, which backs Taipei’s secessionist president, also continues to sell weapons to the island in defiance of Beijing and in violation of its own official policy.

Japan's relations with China have also long been plagued by conflicting claims over a group of tiny East China Sea islets.

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