Defense Secretary Mattis’ Anti-China Saber-Rattling
by Stephen Lendman
On an official visit to Tokyo, Mattis said Washington stands “100% shoulder to shoulder with Japan” in its dispute with China over territory known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, what Beijing calls the Diaoyu archipelago - in its own South China Sea waters, also claimed by Taiwan.
Mattis belligerently said Washington will support Japan militarily if an attack occurs on territories it claims as its own, stressing:
“I made clear that our longstanding policy on the Senkaku Islands stands. The US will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands and as such, Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty applies.”
At his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “(w)e’re going to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.”
If he maintains this position, one held by Mattis, falsely accusing China of “shredd(ing) the trust of nations in the region,” and Trump backs them, confrontation could follow.
At the same time, Mattis in Tokyo softened his tone, saying “(w)hat we have to do is exhaust all efforts, diplomatic efforts, to try and resolve this properly.”
“Our military stance should be one that reinforces our diplomats. At this time, we do not see any need for dramatic military moves at all.”
On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang issued a strongly worded statement, saying “(t)he Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have been an inherent part of Chinese territory since ancient times, which is an unchangeable historical fact.”
He called the US/Japan mutual cooperation treaty a Cold War relic, inappropriate to use as a way to deny China’s territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights.
“We urge the US side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks on the issue involving the Diaoyu Islands sovereignty, and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation,” he stressed.
Separately, senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi spoke with US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. A statement released Friday evening said Yang told Flynn Beijing hopes the Trump administration will work cooperatively with China “to strengthen high-level and other exchanges, maintain the political foundation and expand the political basis of bilateral relations, and manage and control disputes and sensitive issues.”
The White House hasn’t yet released information on the call. According to China Institute of International Studies’ Liu Qing, “Beijing is taking a defensive stance, because the Trump administration is aggressive to everyone, not only China, but also its allies.”
An overstatement for sure, though accurate to say Trump is very outspoken, a quality to admire when it’s straight talk, what’s seldom heard from Western politicians - notably Obama.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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