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China wary of Kishida’s possible hard-line approach

In the LDP leadership race, Kishida called for foreign and security policies that keep China in mind. (AFP)
In the LDP leadership race, Kishida called for foreign and security policies that keep China in mind. (AFP)
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29 Sep 2021 06:09:13 GMT9
29 Sep 2021 06:09:13 GMT9

BEIJING: China is wary that KISHIDA Fumio, who was elected president of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday, may cooperate with the United States to take a hard-line approach against Beijing on security and human rights issues.

In reporting the election, the online edition of the Global Times, a Chinese tabloid affiliated with the Communist Party of China newspaper People’s Daily, urged Japan to actively seek opportunities to improve Japan-China relations, even though Kishida’s incoming administration is unlikely to change Japan’s foreign policy. Kishida is expected to be elected prime minister next week.

In the LDP leadership race, Kishida called for foreign and security policies that keep China in mind, including creating a position of special adviser to the prime minister on human rights issues to deal with concerns regarding alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur ethnic minority in China.

The move has angered Beijing, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying at a press conference on Sept. 14 that “China’s internal affairs brook no foreign interference.”

An international relations expert said Japan-China relations “are unlikely to improve on the security front” as Kishida has declined to reappoint Toshihiro Nikai, who is seen as close to China, as the party’s secretary-general. Also, Kishida became LDP president by winning a runoff thanks partly to votes from those who supported former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, who has a staunchly hawkish position on China, in the first round of voting.

Still, Kishida’s faction in the LDP traditionally has many politicians who value relations with China.

With President Xi Jinping eager to strengthen ties with Tokyo ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics from February next year, the Chinese government is expected to set its policies toward Japan by analyzing who joins Kishida’s cabinet.

JIJI Press

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