Taiwan, Japan ruling parties discuss China, military cooperation

China has unilaterally changed the status quo in the region, affecting not only the security of the Taiwan Strait but also Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI/TOKYO (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Taiwan and Japan's ruling parties discussed how to handle the rising challenge they both face from their neighbour China as well as possible military exchanges, during a virtual meeting on Friday (Aug 27) that Beijing condemned as an affront to Chinese sovereignty.

While Chinese-claimed Taiwan and Japan do not have formal diplomatic ties, they have close unofficial relations and both share concerns about China, especially its increased military activities near the two.

The talks, attended by two senior lawmakers each from Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), took place online and lasted half an hour longer than the originally planned one hour.

The DPP's Mr Lo Chih-cheng and Mr Tsai Shih-ying told reporters the talks focused on areas including semiconductors, China's nearby military activities and possible cooperation between Taiwan, Japan and the United States.

"From a certain perspective today's talks represent the efforts of both governments to raise relations," Mr Lo said. "More importantly, even if the two sides face possible pressure from China, both sides can promise to express their strong willingness and hope that such a dialogue will continue."

Mr Tsai said military exchanges were also brought up, but that as it was highly sensitive he could not disclose details. Possible cooperations for Coast Guards on both sides were also discussed, he said.

Mr Masahisa Sato, a lawmaker who runs the LDP's foreign affairs team, said the dialogue would help inform the Japanese ruling party's policy making.

"The Taiwanese side said they had been waiting and hoping for such a dialogue... (we both) felt it was significant to come up with common goals between the ruling parties that can lead to government policy for both countries," Mr Sato added.

China condemned the talks last week, saying Japan should not send "wrong signals" about Taiwan's independence.

"China firmly opposes all forms of official interactions between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic ties with China," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday, adding that Japan should "avoid interfering in China's domestic affairs".

Mr Lo brushed off China's objections, saying it was totally expected.

"But Taiwan, as a sovereign and independent country, has the right to promote bilateral and multilateral ties with all countries," he said.

In July, lawmakers from the US, Taiwan and Japan held trilateral online talks, which were also dismissed by China's foreign ministry, which said they were "negative and wrong in both form and content".

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary, has previously warned that agreement on the status of the island sat at the "political foundation" of China's ties with Japan.

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga affirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait during Mr Suga's visit to the White House in April - the first mention of the island in such a joint statement since both countries switched formal relations from Taipei to Beijing in the 1970s.

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