US President-elect Joe Biden in phone calls with the leaders of Australia, Japan and South Korea on Thursday emphasised on maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. According to foreign media reports, Joe Biden declared that US security guarantees apply to Japan’s administration of the disputed Senkaku Islands, in the President-elect’s first significant foreign policy move related to China.
Irked by Biden's move, China has reacted sharply to remarks made by the US President-elect on the US commitment to helping Japan defend the Senkaku Islands. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated his government's position, claiming that the islands are inherently Chinese territory. He further termed the 1960 Japan-US security treaty a 'product of the Cold War'. According to ANI, Wang also urged the two countries not to hurt the interests of third parties as well as endanger peace and stability in the region.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he and Biden during their call reaffirmed the importance of their countries' alliances and agreed to further deepen it in face of China's growing influence and North Korea's nuclear threat. "We had a very meaningful telephone conversation as I will work with President-elect Biden to push forward measures to strengthen the Japan-US alliance," Suga told reporters after speaking to Biden on the phone for about 15 minutes.
China has built and militarized man-made islands in the South China Sea and is pressing its claim to virtually all of the sea's key fisheries and waterways. Japan is concerned about China's claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.
As per the Japanese broadcaster NHK World, Tokyo controls the islands, while China and Taiwan lay claim on them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.
China has also been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
The intrusions have not only been condemned by the US but have also invited the latter to conduct military drills in the South China Sea. Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indian-Pacific.
(With agency inputs)