WASHINGTON D.C.: The United States and Japan have expressed their concern over China's growing military power, and pledged to work together against attempts to destabilize Asia.
Their joint statement came after a virtual meeting of their foreign and defense ministers, who discussed their growing alarm about China, tension over Taiwan, and Japan's role in maintaining security in the region.
In their joint statement, the ministers said China's efforts "to undermine the rules-based order" presented "political, economic, military and technological challenges to the region and the world."
"They resolved to work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to destabilizing activities in the region," the statement added.
In a separate virtual summit on January 6, Japan and Australia signed a defense cooperation agreement.
In response to these actions, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing in Beijing, "We deplore and firmly oppose the gross interference in China's internal affairs by the U.S., Japan and Australia, and the fabrication of false information to smear China and undermine the solidarity and mutual trust of countries in the region."
Japan has close economic ties with China, but is concerned that China could seek to occupy democratic Taiwan.
"This is clearly a combined message reflecting a common concern, not a case of U.S. arm-twisting to get Japan to sign onto vague euphemisms," said Daniel Russel from the Asia Society Policy Institute, as quoted by Reuters.
Before the talks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington and Tokyo planned to draft a new defense agreement to counter emerging threats, such as hypersonic weapons and space-based capabilities.
The U.S. and China, as well as Russia, are racing to develop hypersonic weapons, whose extreme speed and maneuverability make them difficult to identify and counter with missiles.
In response, Japan has been developing an electromagnetic "railgun" technology to target such weapons.
"We need to pursue all available means, including cooperation with the U.S., to strengthen comprehensive missile defense capabilities," noted Japanese defense minister Nobuo Kishi.