Japan to support U.S. on security of Taiwan
|By Joel Brinkley
Published: February 18, 2005
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 - Senior Japanese officials, in meetings here on Saturday, plan to assure their American counterparts that Japan shares a common concern about the future security of Taiwan, administration officials and a foreign diplomat said Friday.
While Japan is not expected to make specific offers of military or logistical aid in the event China attacks Taiwan, officials said, Japan is increasingly concerned about the growing political and military might of China, which considers Taiwan a province and continually threatens the island.
With its new assurance, officials said, Japan is moving closer to the American point of view: that the status quo between China and Taiwan should be maintained.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters on Friday, said the United States and Japan shared the goal of maintaining peace between China and Taiwan.
"The United States and Japan "enjoy very deep and broad relations in an alliance to try and help bring and maintain peace and stability" in the region, she said.
She and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld are to meet with the Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, and the Defense Agency director general, Yoshinori Ono, on Saturday. The primary topic is expected to be efforts to coax North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.
But an administration official said the United States and Japan would also issue a joint statement confirming a "common strategic direction" on policies toward Taiwan, China and other regional issues. On Taiwan, the statement will "encourage the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Straits dialogue," the administration official said. This would be the first time that Japan joined the United States in voicing public concern over China's growing military buildup in the area.
A senior foreign diplomat said that has been Japan's policy for many years, even though it has not been stated in a public manner. The United States and Japan maintain complex and conflicted relationships with the Chinese. Both have valuable economic relationships with China. Last year, China replaced the United States as Japan's largest trading partner. China is an important trading partner for the United States, too. On Friday, the State Department announced that the Export-Import Bank of the United States had made a preliminary commitment to lend China $5 billion to build four nuclear power plants in Zhejiang and Yangjiang Provinces.
At the same time, however, the United States has had angry exchanges with China in the last few days. On Wednesday, Porter J. Goss, the director of central intelligence, issued a stern warning about China's growing military prowess.
"Beijing's military modernization and military buildup could tilt the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding: "Improved Chinese capabilities threaten United States forces in the region."
And on Thursday, Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States was concerned about the expansion of the Chinese Navy.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Friday, angrily denounced those remarks, saying, "The United States has severely interfered with Chinese internal affairs and sent a false signal to the advocates of Taiwan independence."