Chinese Embassy in Tokyo issues protest to Japan daily Sankei newspaper over interview with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

Kyodo

The Chinese Embassy in Japan protested to a Japanese newspaper Thursday for running a story that it said advocates Taiwanese independence, a move that Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry rapped as “totally unacceptable.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee called China’s protest to the Sankei Shimbun, as reported online by the newspaper Wednesday night, a clear infringement on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

“We find it totally unacceptable,” Lee said.

The newspaper Wednesday ran an exclusive interview with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu in which he urged the Japanese government to consider holding a security dialogue with Taiwan in light of the rising challenges of mainland China.

Wu also made clear that the Democratic Progressive Party government will not accept Beijing’s “one China” principle, and criticized Beijing for poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and for “seriously threatening the universal values of freedom and democracy.”

The Sankei reported Wednesday night that the Chinese Embassy had lodged a “strong protest,” in which it stated that Taiwan is part of China and accused the conservative newspaper of advocating Taiwan independence through its reporting.

The embassy said the newspaper had broken its promise, made in 1988 when it was allowed to reopen a bureau in Beijing, to report in keeping with the spirit of the 1972 China-Japan joint communique and in adherence with the principle that there exists only one China.

Self-ruled Taiwan, to which nationalist Kuomintang forces fled in 1949 after losing a civil war on the mainland, still formally calls itself the Republic of China. Beijing regards it as a breakaway province.

In 1998, China allowed the Sankei to open a “China general bureau” in Beijing — with the daily’s Taipei office keeping the status of a mere “bureau” — after it promised to report in a “fair and objective” manner in accordance with Sino-Japanese agreements, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at the time.

Beijing expelled the Sankei Shimbun’s bureau chief in September 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, for what it called “persistent anti-China reporting.” The existence of the daily’s Taipei bureau had been an obstacle for the resumption of the Beijing bureau.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry also quoted Lee as saying that China’s strong opposition to the newspaper’s Wu interview only served to show that “we did the right thing.”

The spokesman said Wu was “left speechless” to see that China, which does not tolerate free speech and press freedom at home, seeks to impinge on those same freedoms in Taiwan and Japan.