Chinese FM says Japanese chip curbs to drive Beijing's self-reliance

Japan's foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi meets Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China in this photo taken by Kyodo on Sunday, April 2, 2023. - Reuters

BEIJING, April 2, 2023 (AFP): Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Japanese counterpart on Sunday that Tokyo's new export controls on semiconductor equipment will only further drive Beijing's quest "to become self-reliant".

Yoshimasa Hayashi's visit to China is the first by a Japanese foreign minister since December 2019, ending a gap of over three years during which bilateral ties have sharply deteriorated.

The ministers' Beijing meeting comes just days after Japan unveiled planned export controls on 23 items used to make semiconductors, following US pressure for countries to restrict China's access to the technology.

"The United States used bullying tactics to brutally suppress the Japanese semiconductor industry, and now it is repeating its old tricks against China," Qin told his counterpart, according to a readout of the meeting.

He also accused Japan of being Washington's "minion".

"The blockade will only further stimulate China's determination to become self-reliant," he said.

Japan's controls were preceded by similar restrictions imposed last month by the Netherlands, where authorities cited "international and national security".

In comments to reporters, Hayashi defended the new restrictions on Sunday as "consistent with international rules", adding that they were "not aimed at a specific country".

Semiconductors have become a major flashpoint in the souring ties between China and Japan -- the world's second and third-largest economies.

The foreign ministers also discussed China's recent detention of a Japanese national working in Beijing for Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Astellas under allegations of espionage.

Hayashi told reporters after the meeting that Japan had "protested" the detainment, and called for "the immediate release of that individual".

Qin said Sunday that "China would deal with him according to the law", without offering further details on the case.

The two sides also discussed a disputed group of islands that Japan calls the Senkakus and Beijing the Diaoyus.

"We reiterated my serious concerns about the East China Sea, including the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, as well as China's increased military activities in and around our country, including cooperation with Russia," said Hayashi.

Beijing's growing regional assertiveness will likely be among the key topics discussed at this year's G7 meeting, which Japan is scheduled to host. - AFP

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