De-facto stern warning from Beijing towards Tokyo ahead of Suga's meeting with Biden

Beijing has drawn its red lines.

Today’s newsletter will be brief. Usual disclaimers apply - all the “takes” (and even English-language translations) are strictly personal, NOT official or authoritative.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, April 5 put out two pieces of readouts (a South China Morning Post story says it is “a rare move”) of a phone call between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.

Your Pekingnologist happens to find the some of the languages in the readouts are unusual and wonders if the message has been sufficiently received.

The Chinese-language readouts are here and here, which include:


Wang Yi said that in the face of the complex international situation, China and Japan, as long-time neighbors and the second and third largest economies in the world, should follow the trend of the times and the international trend, respect each other, trust each other, cooperate for mutual benefit and play a positive role in the cause of peace and development in the region and the world. Both sides should cherish and maintain the hard-won improvement and development of Sino-Japanese relations, firmly implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide during their call last year, abide by the principles and spirit of the four Sino-Japanese political documents, and ensure that relations between the two countries do not falter, stagnate or regress and do not get involved in the so-called great power confrontation. China hopes that Japan, as an independent country, will look at China's development objectively and rationally, rather than being "led by the rhythm"/carried away by some countries that are biased against China. Japan and the United States are an alliance, but China and Japan also have a Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and Japan also has the obligation to fulfill the treaty. China is willing to continue to promote the practical cooperation with the Japanese side; mutually support each other to host the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Beijing Winter Olympics slated to take place this year and next year (respectively); use the occasion "China-Japan Cultural and Sports Exchange Promotion Years” (2021 and 2022) and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan (2022) as opportunities to improve the feelings of the two countries’ people; and bring stable and healthy Sino-Japanese relations into the next 50 years.


Wang Yi elaborated on China's principled position on issues such as the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea, opposes Japanese involvement in China's internal affairs in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and asked Japan to abide by the basic norms of international relations and maintain a minimum of respect for China's internal affairs as a close neighbor, and not to extend its hand too far.


Wang Yi said that the will of a certain superpower does not represent the international community, and the few countries that follow this superpower have no power to monopolize multilateral rules. If, under the guise of multilateralism, they are keen to engage in politics of a clique or big power confrontation, or even arbitrarily impose unilateral and illegal sanctions on other countries based on misinformation, the world will regress to the law of the jungle where right and wrong are indistinguishable, which will be a disaster for the numerous small and medium-sized countries, and the majority of members of the international community will not agree.

Your Pekingnologist further recalls some language from a March 17 press conference by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted by spokesperson Zhao Lijian (in Mandarin and in English), after the United States and Japan issuing a joint press statement after holding their "2+2" Security Consultative Committee on March 16 saying that China's behavior, where inconsistent with the existing international order, presents challenges to the international community.

from Zhao Lijian (this is MoFA’s official translation)

First, there is only one system in the world, and it is the UN-centered international order; there is only one set of rules, and it is the basic norms governing international relations with the UN Charter as its cornerstone. The US and Japan are not entitled to define what the international order is, still less to impose their standard on others.

Second, China is always an important force to safeguard world peace and promote common development. We have established partnerships with 112 countries and international organizations, joined more than 100 inter-governmental organizations and signed over 500 multilateral treaties. China now stands as the largest contributor of peacekeepers in all the permanent members of the Security Council. The US is accustomed to upholding double standards and cherry-picking with international law and international rules. During its nearly 250 years of history, there were only 16 years when it was not at war. It also runs hundreds of military bases all over the world. The international community has its fair judgement as to who poses the top threat to world peace and security.

Third, China's position on issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Island is consistent and clear. Our resolution and will to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests is rock solid. China's sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands is indisputable. The South China Sea is more than 8,300 miles away from the continental United States. Despite the distance, the U.S. side has repeatedly sent warships and military aircraft to the South China Sea for military drills and close-in reconnaissance, without a break all year round. It is the United States that has been flexing muscles and practicing coercion and intimidation. Issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are China's domestic affairs that brook no foreign interference. The US-Japan joint statement shows a disregard for historical merits of the issues, as well as facts and truth. It is but further evidence of the two countries colluding to meddle in China's internal affairs and malign China.

Fourth, the United States and Japan, stuck in the Cold-War mentality, deliberately seek bloc confrontation and attempt to form an anti-China circle. This runs counter to the trend of our times and the aspiration for peace, development and cooperation shared by the region and the vast majority of countries in the world. It will only bring chaos or even conflict to the region and further expose the US-Japan alliance's true face of undermining regional peace and stability.

Fifth, Japan, driven by the selfish aim to check China's revitalization, willingly stoops to acting as a strategic vassal of the United States, going so far as to break faith, harm relations with China, invite the wolf into the house, and betray the collective interests of the whole region. Such despicable behavior is deeply unpopular.

Sixth, we urge the United States and Japan to immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs, stop forming the anti-China clique, and stop undermining regional peace and stability. China will take all measures necessary to resolutely defend sovereignty, security and development interests.

The English-language translation, in the personal opinion of your Pekingnologist, unfortunately, does not fully reflect the sternness of the original Mandarin, not because MoFA is bad at English but because the Mandarin versions use quite some 成语 idioms, especially the highlighted parts (and most notably point number five).







Some brief notes:

1) 日本为满足阻遏中国崛起复兴的一己之私,甘愿仰人鼻息,充当美国战略附庸,不惜背信弃义、破坏中日关系,不惜引狼入室、出卖本地区整体利益。这种做法令人不齿,不得人心 , as said on March 17, is perhaps as stern as it can get.

2) Wang, on Monday, April 5, said China is willing to join Japan to mutually support each other to host the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Beijing Winter Olympics slated to take place this year and next year (respectively).

To put it bluntly: if Japan doesn’t support the Beijing Winter Olympics, maybe - just maybe - China won’t support the Tokyo Olympic Games?

3) Wang said Japan shall 作为近邻对中国的内部事务保持起码的尊重,不要把手伸得太长了 maintain a minimum of respect for China's internal affairs as a close neighbor, and not to extend its hand too far. So is Tokyo, in the eyes of Beijing, nearing below the minimum of respect?

4) Japan has not engaged, in lockstep with the United States and others, in arbitrarily impose unilateral and illegal sanctions on other countries based on misinformation - SO FAR.

5) Some languages in the readouts of the phone call sound quite oral but are perhaps more lively:

“带节奏” led by the rhythm/carried away

“不要把手伸得太长了” not to extend its hand too far

5) Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will visit Washington for talks with President Joe Biden on April 16, the Japanese government said Friday (April 2).

And just by the way, Family comes first: Japan to switch order of names in victory for tradition (Reuters) happened over a year and a half ago, but Tokyo has yet to get its way in mainstream Western discourse?