China cancels bilateral meeting with Japan after G-7 Taiwan statement

BEIJING (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday (Aug 4) that a meeting between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart on the sidelines of Asean events in Cambodia has been cancelled.

China said the meeting was called off over a G-7 statement expressing concern about Beijing’s “threatening actions” around Taiwan in the wake of a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Chinese side had earlier announced the meeting between Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Their meeting had been expected as early as Thursday on the sidelines of the Asean meeting in Cambodia.

The statement released by the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven wealthy countries on Wednesday was “irresponsible”, Chinese Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. 

In the statement, the foreign ministers of the G-7 nations – including Japan – called on China to resolve tension around the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner.

The group said there was “no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait”.

Earlier on Thursday, Wang Yi called US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational” action by the United States, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Wang Yi said China has made the utmost diplomatic effort to avert crisis, but will never allow its core interests to be hurt.

China’s current and future measures are necessary and timely defensive countermeasures, carefully considered and evaluated, aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty and security, in line with international and domestic law, CCTV cited him as saying.

Hayashi on Tuesday declined to comment on Pelosi’s trip, saying only in general it was extremely important for the international community that the US and China have stable ties.

Tokyo subsequently lodged a protest over Chinese military drills around Taiwan, some of which were set to be held in what Japan considers its exclusive economic zone close to its south-western-most islands.  

With relations between the Asian neighbours strained over a raft of issues, the meeting was to have been the first in-person encounter between the two countries’ foreign ministers since 2020, although they held a video conference in May.

Japan has sought to avoid alienating its biggest trading partner, China, while bolstering ties with its only formal military ally, the US.

China and Japan are also locked in a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands close to Taiwan. 

Japanese officials have become increasingly outspoken about the importance of Taiwan’s national security to its own stability, a development that has sparked anger in China, which considers the island part of its territory.   

Former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba headed a lawmakers’ delegation to Taipei last week, where he called for bilateral talks on how to deal with contingencies.

Japan and Taiwan are about 110km apart at their closest point.