Japan warns of crisis over Taiwan, growing danger from rivalry between the US and China


FILE PHOTO: A Type 74 tank fires ammunition during a live-fire exercise at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) training site at the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Japan, May 22, 2021. Akio Kon / Pool over REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Growing military tensions over Taiwan and economic and technological rivalry between China and the United States threaten peace and stability in East Asia as the regional balance of power shifts in Beijing’s favor, Japan said in its annual Defense White Paper.

“It is necessary that, more than ever, we follow the situation closely with a sense of crisis,” read a new section on Taiwan. “In particular, the competition in technology fields is likely to become even more intense,” said the tussle between the USA and China.

The defense review, approved by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government on Tuesday, points to China as Japan’s biggest national security problem. Beijing’s recent surge in military activity around Taiwan worries Tokyo as the island sits near the Okinawa chain at the western end of the Japanese archipelago.

Chinese President Xi Jinping this month promised the completion of “reunification” with Taiwan and in June criticized the United States as a “risk taker” after sending a warship across the strait that separated the island from the mainland.

Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Taro Aso said in a speech reported by Japanese media this month that Japan should join forces with the United States to protect Taiwan from any invasion. Aso later said that any contingency regarding Taiwan should be resolved through dialogue when asked about the remarks that Beijing rebuked.

As the military rivalry between the United States and China deepens, their economic competition is fueling a race for leadership in key technologies such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.

The advent of rival technology camps poses a challenge to Japan, as its economy is as dependent on doing business with China as it is with the United States. Japan will also have to spend a lot of money to keep up with government funding for technology development in the US, China, and Europe.

The U.S. Senate legislature recently passed the Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, authorizing $ 190 billion in technology spending, including $ 54 billion in increasing chip production. House legislators are debating a separate proposal that also promises generous funding, the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act, or EAGLE Act.

The Japanese annual security review also includes, for the first time, a section on threats from climate change, which could increase competition for land and resources and trigger mass movements of climate refugees. An increase in global warming-related disasters could also affect military capabilities, while the melting of ice in the Arctic Sea could lead to the militarization of northern waters.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Stephen Coates

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