Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army who was representing China at the recent Shangri-La security forum in Singapore, digressed from his prepared remarks and strongly commented that the speeches coming from Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were “unimaginable” as both of them seemingly implicated China in destabilizing the region with its recent actions.
Wang said that Abe’s keynote address was filled with “veiled criticism” at his country as he told Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. Various bilateral talks were going on in the sidelines of the conference, but it was very noticeable that China did not want anything to do with the Japanese contingent. “Japan’s accusations at China are wrong and go against the standards of international relations,” Wang said. Abe had initially mentioned that Japan did not welcome the recent confrontations of Chinese and Japanese naval vessels and fighter planes in the East China Sea. Abe had also offered Japan’s help to Southeast Asian nations in protecting their sovereign territories and airspace, a comment that China took issue with.
The conference was the first security forum that China and Japan attended after tensions were raised as Japan took administrative ownership of a string of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea which they call the Senkakus, but also claimed by China as the Diaoyus. The conference atmosphere was understandably tense because of these undertones – added to some tension that is similarly happening in the South China Sea, including Vietnam’s claim that a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat on May 26, and the Philippines’ remarks about China building an airstrip in disputed territory.
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