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World China Blasts U.S.' 'Cliques' Before Planned Meeting With Japan, India and Australia

17:36  15 september  2021
17:36  15 september  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian has blasted the U.S. for "forming exclusive cliques" after President Joe Biden announced Tuesday an upcoming meeting with Japan, India and Australia, the Associated Press reported.

Four military aircraft landed on the highway and took off again on Wednesday as part of Taiwan's five-day Han Guang military exercise designed to prepare the island's forces for an attack by China, which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory. In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, second from right, watches as a military jet taxis along a highway in Jiadong, Taiwan, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. © Taiwan Presidential Office via AP Four military aircraft landed on the highway and took off again on Wednesday as part of Taiwan's five-day Han Guang military exercise designed to prepare the island's forces for an attack by China, which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory. In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, second from right, watches as a military jet taxis along a highway in Jiadong, Taiwan, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.

Leaders from the four countries, referred to as the "Quad," will meet next week in person for talks in the interest of "promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific," the Biden administration said.

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Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, conducted military exercises Wednesday on rural roads to prepare for any possible Chinese attacks on its main airfields. The action comes as China has increased its assertiveness in the East and South China Seas, pushing Taiwan to bolster its defense and the U.S. and allies to bolster cooperation in structuring a sufficient response, the AP reported.

After Biden's announcement of the meeting, Lijian asserted that China was a "firm defender of regional peace and stability." He added, "China's development is a growing force for peace in the world and a boon to the prosperity and development of the region. The countries concerned should abandon the outdated zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical thinking."

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For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

China flies fighter jets toward Taiwan on a regular basis in an effort to warn and intimidate the island's air force. Last month, Chinese fighter jets, anti-submarine aircraft and combat ships conducted joint assault drills near Taiwan with China saying the exercise was necessary to safeguard its sovereignty.

Japan, a U.S. ally that hosts the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, has long moved cautiously with regard to China, an important trading partner. But it has recently become less reserved in the face of Beijing's growing military activity and broad territorial claims in the western Pacific, including to a group of islands near Taiwan that Japan controls.

Masahisa Sato, a senior lawmaker of the governing Liberal Democratic Party and an expert on defense, told a recent forum on security in Asia that right now the U.S.-Japan alliance is focused largely on a response to a possible conflict stemming from the Korean Peninsula, and it needs to be broadened to consider what to do if there is a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

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He noted that the Sakishima island group, which includes Okinawa, "is right next to Taiwan and is part of a same theater."

"We should consider a Taiwan contingency as nearly equal to a Japan contingency," Sato said.

All three candidates running on September 29 to become Japan's new leader are proposing hawkish policies toward China, though still acknowledging its importance as a trading partner.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccinations who is seen as a front runner, has said he will seek to establish a regional framework that adds to Japan's alliance with the United States in countering China's growing military activity.

In a joint statement after they met in April, outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Biden said they "recognize the importance of deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region" and added that they "oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea" and reiterated their "objections to China's unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea."

Underscoring its concerns, Japan's Defense Ministry added a new section on Taiwan in its annual report released in July, saying the situation requires a "sense of crisis." It says China's military capability has become far greater than that of Taiwan and that Japan must pay attention to further increases on both sides.

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Suga announced he will not run in the September 29 Liberal Democratic Party leadership vote, which chooses a new party leader who will become Japan's next prime minister.

Taiwan has stepped up purchases from the U.S. of weapons including missiles and aircraft over the past two years.

Taiwan's defense ministry submitted a budget of $16.8 billion for the next year, a modest increase from last year's $16.2 billion. Some of the funds would purchase 66 F-16V fighter jets, according to the semiofficial Central News Agency.

Many believe, however, that despite the bellicose rhetoric and drills like the Han Guang exercise on Wednesday, as well as the Chinese posturing, that open conflict is not on the horizon.

"This is a type of gray zone tactic—military intimidation," said Ou Xifu, a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan. "This shouldn't lead to war."

a group of clouds in the sky: Taiwan's annual five-day Han Guang military exercise is designed to prepare the island's forces for an attack by China, which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory. In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, Taiwan armored units conducts a live firing drill to deter a coastal landing force during the Han Guang exercise held on the island of Penghu county, Taiwan, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Military News Agency via AP © Military News Agency via AP Taiwan's annual five-day Han Guang military exercise is designed to prepare the island's forces for an attack by China, which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory. In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, Taiwan armored units conducts a live firing drill to deter a coastal landing force during the Han Guang exercise held on the island of Penghu county, Taiwan, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Military News Agency via AP

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