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As tensions rise between Japan and China, is Tokyo backing a loser in Taiwan?

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For the first time, Japan’s annual defence report has listed Taiwan as a priority issue, noting that the stability of the self-ruled island – which is claimed by China – is critical to its own security. The shift in position demonstrates a growing openness from Tokyo to counter the rise of Beijing, an openness that has been encouraged by the United States. Predictably, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the white paper as a “gross interference in its internal affairs,” reiterating its One China Policy.

And it’s not Tokyo’s first move concerning Taipei, having also recently sent Covid vaccines to the island. More significant was Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Tara Aso revealing that Tokyo would seek to be involved in a conflict in the Taiwan strait. The comments were subsequently dismissed as a gaffe and rowed-back-on somewhat, but the sentiment was clear. The annual defence report itself observes that the balance of power between Taiwan and China is changing unfavourably for Japan.

Beijing is getting more powerful, and Tokyo does not think it can idly stand by. Why is this? It’s not about ideology or altruistic values. The island of Taiwan is the centrepiece of a chess board which is described as ‘the first island chain’ – a volcanic island grouping which spans all the all........

© RT.com

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