Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger raised the specter of war in Asia as tension between China and Japan played out at a global security conference.
“Asia is more in a position of 19th-century Europe, where military conflict is not ruled out,” Kissinger, 90, said on a panel at the meeting in Munich, Germany, yesterday. “Between Japan and China, the issue for the rest of us is that neither side be tempted to rely on force to settle the issue.”
Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Party Congress, told the conference earlier that China’s relationship with Japan is “probably at its worst” amid a territorial dispute. China will take action to maintain stability in the region, she said.
A deepening conflict between the two nations over a chain of islands in the East China Sea threatens security in the region as the countries escalate rhetoric over their World War II past. About a month after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a shrine honoring wartime leaders, Fu blamed Japan’s “history of denial” of its crimes during the war.
Fu said the government in Beijing would “respond effectively to any provocation” that risked upsetting the “order of tranquility” in East Asia. “Many people are worried,” Fu told the panel in English. “The bilateral relations, the cooperation is suffering a lot.”
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking at the same panel in Japanese, replied that Japan had undertaken “serious reflection” of its wartime and colonial past. He listed Japan’s peacekeeping involvement in the Middle East and Asia and its contribution to nuclear non-proliferation.
“We would like to pursue dialog with China” on security issues, Kishida said.
Protests broke out in China in late 2012 after the Japanese government bought some of the disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, from a private owner. Tension escalated in November when China established an air-defense identification zone in the area, demanding civil and military aircraft present flight plans to its authorities.
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