A senior Chinese diplomat called an emergency meeting with the Japanese ambassador to China to protest former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's comments on issues related to Taiwan, the government said Thursday.

Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying met with Hideo Tarumi on Wednesday night, hours after Abe said at a virtual event that any emergency concerning the self-ruled island would be an emergency for Japan and for the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during an online appearance at a Taiwan think-tank event in Taipei on Dec. 1, 2021. (Kyodo)  

Hua told Tarumi that Abe, a conservative politician known for his hawkish views on security, had made "extremely wrong remarks" on the Taiwan question, brutally interfered in China's internal affairs and flagrantly supported "Taiwan independence" forces.

Tarumi responded by saying China should "understand that in Japan, there is such a way of thinking over Taiwan," while emphasizing Tokyo will not accept Beijing's "unilateral assertion," according to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

The ambassador added he is not in a position to explain the intention behind Abe's Taiwan comments as the former prime minister is no longer a member of the Japanese government.

Abe is a veteran lawmaker who stepped down as prime minister in 2020 after nearly eight years in the post but he still heads the largest faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Hua was also quoted by the Foreign Ministry as telling Tarumi that Japan should "not underestimate the Chinese people's determination and strength to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

At Wednesday's virtual event, Abe said, "A Taiwan emergency is an emergency for Japan. In other words, it is also an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, particularly President Xi Jinping, should not misjudge that."

Moreover, Abe expressed support for Taiwan's bid for membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which mainland China has been also seeking to join.

Communist-led China and democratic Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as the result of a civil war. Beijing has regarded the self-ruled island as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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