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China warns U.S., Japan against expanding pact

/ Source: The Associated Press

China’s foreign minister warned Japan and the United States on Sunday not to include Taiwan within the scope of their military alliance, saying Beijing would not permit interference in what it considers an internal matter.

The two countries angered China last month when they reaffirmed their security arrangements and said they wanted to see the “peaceful resolution” of Taiwan’s status.

“Any practice of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-U.S. security cooperation constitutes an encroachment on China’s sovereignty and interference into China’s internal affairs,” Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said at a news conference during the annual meeting of China’s legislature.

“The Chinese government and the people are firmly against such activities,” he said.

His comments came as the parliament prepares to enact an anti-secession law that officials say is meant to discourage Taiwan from trying to make its de facto independence permanent. Taiwanese leaders say the measure could set the stage for an attack on the island.

China: Alliance must remain bilateral
China’s communist government has long warned it will use force if need be to defend its claim to Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949. That could lead to conflict with the United States, Taiwan’s main arms supplier.

Li repeated Chinese criticism of the U.S.-Japanese alliance as a Cold War relic and said such cooperation “ought to be strictly restricted to a bilateral nature.”

“If it goes beyond a bilateral scope definitely it will allow uneasiness on the part of Asian countries and also bring about complicating factors to the regional security situation,” he said.

Beijing regards Japan as its main rival for status as East Asia’s dominant military power and reacts angrily to any suggestion that Tokyo might extend the reach of its forces. Taiwan was a Japanese colony in 1895-1945 and maintains friendly ties with Tokyo.

End to arms ban sought
Li also appealed for an early end to a 15-year-old European arms embargo on China, rejecting suggestions that Chinese threats to attack Taiwan might make some Europeans want to extend the ban.

France and Germany have been pressing for an end to the ban, imposed after China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Li suggested that would improve Beijing’s relations with the European Union.

“We don’t need to buy a lot of advanced weapons from you,” the foreign minister said. “We only believe that the maintenance of such a long-obsolete, useless and detrimental arms embargo against China is a jarring note in the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the European Union.”

The United States has argued against lifting the ban, worried that high-tech European weapons might be used by China against U.S. forces in any conflict over Taiwan.

Asked whether threats to attack Taiwan might make Europeans reluctant to lift the embargo, Li said, “that is an unfounded worry.”