China and Japan have intensified their war of words over various issues ranging from Taiwan to issues related to cyber security. As per Japanese media reports, the draft of Japan’s new cybersecurity strategy for the first time has indications that China is conducting cyber-attacks to steal information from military-related and high-tech companies. On the matter of Taiwan, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said Tokyo and Washington should jointly defend Taiwan if it is attacked by the Chinese military. According to Japanese media reports, Aso has signalled that Tokyo would consider a Chinese invasion of Taiwan an existential threat to its security, allowing Japan to help defend the self-ruled island with the United States.
Reacting angrily to Aso’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said such remarks are extremely wrong and dangerous and runs counter to the One-China policy under which Beijing asserts that the estranged island of Taiwan is part of the Chinese mainland.
Japan’s stance over Taiwan is hardening. It has watched with apprehension as China has ramped up its military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan in recent months. This included China’s dispatch last month of a record 28 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone just days after the G7 leaders mentioned Taiwan in a joint statement for the first time ever, urging the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.
Tokyo had long taken a quiet stance on the Taiwan issue keeping China’s sensitivity in mind, but a shift in approach was visible when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier this year mentioned it in a joint statement with US President Joe Biden – the first such reference since 1969. Japan has also highlighted its support for Taiwan through the donation and pledged donation of more than two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which did not go well with China.