China denounced comments by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who said if China invaded Taiwan and it threatens Japan’s “survival,” the US and Japan “must defend Taiwan together.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday said Aso’s comments were “wrong and dangerous.”
“Japan has committed crimes during World War II, yet it is still obsessed with Taiwan and has not learned the lessons of history. Today’s China is no longer the China of the past and will not allow any other country to intervene in its internal affairs,” Zhao said.
Other Japanese officials downplayed what Aso said, clarifying that Tokyo, like Washington, still abides by the “one China” policy and has no formal relations with Taipei. When asked about his comments by reporters on Tuesday, Aso toned down his rhetoric a bit and said any clashes over Taiwan should be resolved diplomatically.
But what Aso said is still significant and follows a pattern of the US and its allies slowly changing their rhetoric and policies towards Taiwan. In April, President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga released a joint statement that called for “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” marking the first time US and Japanese leaders mentioned Taiwan in a joint statement since 1969.
The US still maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Meaning, it’s not clear if the US would intervene if China moves to take the island by force. While there are calls in Washington for the US to commit to defending Taiwan, it’s unlikely that the policy will change in the next few years, but the Biden administration is taking steps to boost diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and allies like Japan are following Washington’s lead.