In the midst of the AUUKUS submarine row, Japan warns Europe to call out China’s aggression.

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In the midst of the AUUKUS submarine row, Japan warns Europe to call out China’s aggression.

Japan’s defense minister has a plea for European countries seeking a voice in Indo-Pacific affairs: call out China’s assertiveness before it escalates into a larger international issue.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi warned that China has gotten stronger and is now “attempting to use its might to unilaterally change the status quo in the East and South China Seas.” If left unchecked, these commons, according to Kishi, are globally vital commerce routes that could be harmed.

Kishi’s comments came amid a widening schism in the West over a recently negotiated contract in which the United States will supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. This came at the expense of France, which had earlier agreed to deliver identical submarines to Australia for $90 billion, causing uproar in Paris when the contract was announced.

As a result, France withdrew its ambassadors from Australia and the United States and halted defense discussions with the United Kingdom, the third party in the submarine deal with the United States. Although the so-called AUUKUS countries deny that their approach targets out Beijing, China has slammed the accord as “seriously endangering regional security.”

In his interview, Kishi referred to Japan’s own disputes with China over the Senkaku Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Japan. China also claims these islands, which it calls Diaoyu, and has been sending ships into the waters just off the shore for the better part of a decade.

Chinese ships have made 157 intrusions in a row, according to Japanese coast guard numbers published by The Guardian, and the Japanese coast guard submitted a protest at the end of August over the landing of a flotilla of Chinese coast guard ships off the Sekakus.

Kishi told CNN last week that Japan will adopt a tougher stance against Chinese invasions, saying that it would “meet any Chinese threat ship for ship, and beyond.”

European countries have worked hard to build their own Indo-Pacific strategy. Last week, the European Union released a new policy study, warning that regional tensions could harm European interests while urging “multifaceted engagement” with China. Kishi stated that he had discussed the effects of regional tensions with European officials.

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