Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, took fresh aim at China on Friday over coercing its neighbours, posted pictures of Chinese boats he said were fishing near Japan despite a seafood ban and noted China’s defence minister was still missing.
“Economic coercion by China is their most persistent and pernicious tool in their toolbox,” he said during a speech in Tokyo.
The latest manifestation of that, he added, was China’s decision to ban all seafood from Japan after it started releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean last month.
Before speaking he posted four pictures on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that he said were Chinese vessels “fishing for the same fish embargoed by China”.
Responding to Emanuel’s remarks on Fukushima, China’s foreign ministry said the ambassador should stop favouring Japan’s “irresponsible” behaviour.
Emanuel’s swipe at China comes after the former mayor of Chicago and one-time chief of staff to former President Barack Obama used the social media platform to question the whereabouts of China’s defence chief, Li Shangfu, after Li missed a meeting in Vietnam.
Emanuel also asked whether Li was under house arrest. Li, who has not been seen in public for more than three weeks, has been placed under investigation by Chinese authorities, Reuters reported last week, citing 10 sources.
After his speech, Emanuel declined to say whether the White House had told him to halt his social media posts, instead pointing reporters to comments by White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell yesterday.
Campbell described Emanuel to NBC as a “superstar” and an effective U.S. representative “serving with distinction”.
“The bigger picture, which is the more important picture, is three and a half weeks later, you and I are all standing here, and you can’t tell me where the defence minister is,” Emanuel said.