‘Poking the bear!’ Japan and Taiwan risk China fury as landmark talks planned

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Referencing the upcoming talks, Professor David Roberts, who specialises in security, foreign policy and politics, wrote on Twitter: “Poking the bear”. The dialogue will be held on Friday between the ruling parties of Japan and Taiwan in what will be the nations’ first-ever bilateral talks. Speaking about the issue, Masahisa Sato, a parliamentarian who runs foreign affairs for Japan’s ruling Liberal democratic party, told the Financial Times that deeper dialogue was needed between the nations because Taiwan’s future would have “a serious impact” on Japan’s security and economy.

Mr Sato said: “That is how important we feel the situation in Taiwan is at the moment.”

The talks between the two countries will be held online.

The details of the meeting were revealed during US vice-president Kamala Harris’ visit to Singapore, during which she criticised China for its threatening behaviour towards its neighbours.

Ms Harris said: “Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea.”

She then went on to describe China’s claims as “unlawful” and added, “the United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats”.

Japan and Taiwan do not have a diplomatic relationship and the meeting will be treated as a substitute for ministerial talks.

Mr Sato said that the LDP will aim to hold higher-level talks with Taiwanese government officials in the future.

The talks come just after the US and Japanese military officials started in-depth planning for a possible conflict between China and Taiwan.

Tokyo has also linked Taiwan’s security with its own in a recently published defence white paper.

Mr Sato will be joined by another LDP parliamentarian, Taku Osaka, and the pair will hold virtual talks with Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive party.

According to the Financial Times, Mr Sato has called for joint training in rescue operations for natural disasters and accidents at sea as a way to deepen relations with Taiwan while maintaining Tokyo’s longstanding policy of not forging a direct military relationship with Taipei.

Politicians from Taiwan have said they are encouraged by the growing importance Japan attached to the threat to their country.

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One of the Taiwanese organisers said: “The initiative for these talks came from the Japanese side.”

He added that Taipei had long thought more dialogue with Japan, especially on security matters, was needed.

He continued: “Given that all four participants are members of parliament, it is a bit like a track one dialogue.

“Although we will be attending in our capacity as party officials, we all have direct influence on policy.”

China warned Japan last week against interfering in its domestic affairs and urged Tokyo not to hold party-level talks with Taipei.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said: “The Chinese side firmly opposes all forms of official interactions between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic ties with China.”

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