China expressed its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition Wednesday to former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's call earlier this week for Japan, the United States and Australia to bolster cooperation on preventing Beijing from invading Taiwan.
The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo said Aso's remarks in Canberra on Monday were meant to "once again wantonly provoke and interfere in China's internal affairs on the Taiwan issue." Beijing regards the self-ruled democratic island as its territory.
Aso, currently vice president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said in a speech at an event hosted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs that China could seize the remote Taiwanese islands of Kinmen and Matsu, which are close to the mainland.
"In such a scenario, Tokyo, Canberra and Washington must speak in one voice that they shall not tolerate any change in the status quo achieved through force," Aso said. "If our response is weak, China will likely interpret it as a favorable sign, and it should not be surprising if they then set their sights on Taiwan."
Aso also called for expanding AUKUS, a trilateral security partnership involving Australia, Britain and the United States, to include Japan, making it JAUKUS.
The embassy said it is not Beijing but "Taiwan independence" separatists and external forces that are trying to change the status quo, adding that the Chinese government and people will "firmly defend their sovereignty and security interests."
China and Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 due to a civil war. Beijing regards the island as a renegade province to be brought under its control, by force if necessary.