Top U.S. and Japanese officials accused China of being “inconsistent with the international order,” denouncing in particular Beijing’s military activities in the Pacific region and the human right abuses against the Muslim Uighur minority population in Xinjiang.
China’s behavior on these and other issues “represents military, political and economic challenges,” State Secretary Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi, said in a joint statement at the conclusion of a meeting in Tokyo.
“If China uses force to impose its will, we will respond accordingly,” Blinken warned during a press conference, held during a visit to Japan by the two cabinet members of the Biden administration.
Tokyo and Washington “are committed to opposing coercive and destabilizing behavior in the region,” they said in their statement, which identified Beijing as the biggest challenge facing the bilateral security alliance in the region, along with North Korea.
Japan and the United States also stressed “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” and expressed “serious concern” over “disruptive activities in the region” by China’s Coast Guard.
They also reaffirmed their opposition to “any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo or undermine the administration” of the Senkaku Islands, controlled by Tokyo and whose sovereignty is claimed by China, where this small archipelago is known as Diaoyu.
The Asian giant “has engaged in coercive and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea, at times directed against our allies in the region, and that is something we will respond to consistently,” the US Defense Secretary said in the same vein.
Tuesday’s meeting took place as part of Blinken’s first diplomatic tour, whose first stop in Tokyo is focused on China’s military rise and closer bilateral ties.
Blinken will also pay a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday before continuing his tour on Wednesday and Thursday with a trip to South Korea, where he will be accompanied by Austin.