China strongly warned a high-level Japanese official around late June that Tokyo should not send its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to join U.S. operations that test the freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, diplomatic sources said Saturday.
Japan will “cross a red line” if SDF vessels take part in U.S. freedom of navigation operations, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua told the Japanese official, the sources said, adding that the ambassador even hinted at military action if Japan crosses the line.
The warning was issued just as an international tribunal was about to rule on conflicting claims in those waters.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled July 12 that China’s sweeping claims to most of the South China Sea, which overlap with those of the Philippines and other neighboring countries, have no legal basis.
China has rejected the ruling, while the United States and Japan have called on Beijing to respect the decision. Read More