A changing geopolitical context and domestic sentiments mean that Tokyo and Taipei are likely to draw closer together
Despite applying considerable pressure on Tokyo in recent weeks, Beijing was unable to prevent the Japanese government from rolling out the red carpet for former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui last week. During a visit to Japan, Lee addressed a packed Diet and had a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Besides showcasing the longstanding warm relationship between Japan and Taiwan, the Abe government’s decision to stand up to Chinese pressure presages a likely deepening of ties between Tokyo and Taipei, the result of both growing fears of China’s assertiveness as well as political change in Taiwan.
In a strong protest on July 24 after Lee, 92, was allowed in Japan, a spokesman at China’s Foreign Ministry expressed Beijing’s “grave concern” over the visit by the former leader, whom he described as “a stubborn Taiwan splittist.”
On the same day, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing “strongly oppose[s] any country providing a stage for ‘Taiwan independence’ activities, and take strong umbrage at Japan allowing Lee to visit.”
My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.