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Disorderly behavior upsets regional stability: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-01-17 21:01

This bird eye view shows the coral reefs in China's Xisha Islands, South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

Reports that Japan and France plan to hold virtual ministerial security talks in mid-January that will focus on "China's assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas" cannot but raise people's eyebrows, given the absurdity of the presumption and the fact that France, which is thousands of miles away, has nothing to do with the regional maritime disputes.

The defense and foreign ministers of the two countries are expected to hold the so-called two-plus-two talks, to affirm coordination in realizing "a free and open Indo-Pacific" and deepen defense cooperation, according to Japanese government sources on Friday. The South China Sea has always been free and open despite the disputes among some regional countries, and China and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are trying to establish a guarantee for peace and stability by reaching an agreement on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

As progress is being made in that regard, and with the situation remaining relatively stable in the region, the joint move by Japan and France, with an aim of hyping up the threat from an "assertive China" and thus creating a pretext for interference, will only cause trouble in the region.

Actually, it is Japan that has been acting assertively in the region, with its warships having sailed through waters close to Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea on at least two occasions in the last 10 months, on the pretext of carrying out "freedom of navigation" patrols "to deter China".

This obviously comes in response to Washington's call for the forming of military and economic cliques to counter China, especially in the Indo-Pacific. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia has been given greater importance, and AUKUS, an alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the US, has also been established with the same goal in mind.

As a staunch ally of the US, it is no surprise that Japan should enthusiastically jump on its bandwagon. Nor that it should seek to prove its credentials by reinforcing defense cooperation with the US and European countries such as the UK and Germany. However, it should bear in mind that it too is a beneficiary of the region's economic vitality, which is an upshot of regional countries' efforts to maintain friendly relations.

What is strange, if not totally incomprehensible, is for France, a country that has always taken pride in its independent foreign policy, to be seemingly dragged by Japan and the US into their anti-China games. Paris should remain sober-minded and guard against any actions that serve its national interests no good. It should adhere to its tradition of independent diplomacy and act to promote trust and cooperation rather than division and confrontation.

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