The March 16, 2021 U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) (Japan-U.S. "2+2") meeting in Tokyo was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed regional security issues, and acknowledged that China's behavior, "where inconsistent with the existing international order," presents political, economic, military, and technological "challenges" to "the Alliance and to the international community." They also stated that they oppose "any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo," including in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Further underlining "the importance of peace and stability" in the Taiwan Strait, they also shared "serious concerns regarding the human rights situation" in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
The meeting was harshly criticized by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who accused Japan of acting like "a strategic vassal" of the U.S., "unscrupulously betraying trust and justice and damaging Sino-Japanese relations."
Quoting Minister Zhao Lijian, popular Chinese blogger Liu Hong, a former long-time foreign correspondent and editor for the official Xinhua News Agency, wrote an article under the headline "China Can't Take It Any Longer And Lashes Out At Japan With A Rare Level Of Ferocity." He noted that in order to contain China, Japan is even "willing to lose face," stating: "Most people in this world despise treachery and backstabbing more than they hate cunning and shamelessness. I've always been concerned that as Japan rallies to support the U.S., it will 'break faith and abandon right,' jeopardizing the good Sino-Japanese relations, which would be bad for Japan and the region as a whole."
Below is Liu Hong's article, published by the current affairs commentary WeChat channel "Niutanqin," a "Top 500 public WeChat account" with millions of followers:
U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense meet with their Japanese counterparts (Source: Niutanqin)
"Japan Is Prepared To... Act As A Strategic Vassal Of The U.S."
"Rare, very rare indeed.
"Please take note of the following remarks by [Chinese] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on March 17 :
"'...The joint statement from the United States and Japan demonstrates a disregard for both the historical merits of the issue at hand as well as a disregard for facts and the truth, which is yet another clear indication that the U.S. and Japan are colluding like the wolf and the bei to meddle in China's internal affairs, as well as another vile act of smearing and discrediting China.
"'...In order to satisfy its self-interested desire to contain China's rise and rejuvenation, Japan is prepared to 'depend on others for the air which it breathes' and act as a strategic vassal of the United States, unscrupulously betraying trust and justice and damaging Sino-Japanese relations, unscrupulously breaking faith and abandoning rights to destroy Sino-Japanese relations, not hesitant to draw wolves into the house and sell out the interests of the region as a whole. Such behavior is held in contempt and goes against the will of the people.'
"[Zhao Lijian used] a string of idiomatic expressions:
"The wolf and the bei are in cahoots;
"depends on others for the air which it breathes;
"breaks faith and abandons right;
"shows the wolf into the house;
"held in contempt;
"goes against the will of the people.
"All these terms are negative. I saw some media headlines saying that China criticizes the U.S. and Japan for 'colluding like the wolf and the bei' – good, because they do act like that. But I think more than anything else, the most ruthless of these idioms, is 'breaking faith and abandoning right' [背信弃义 bèixìnqìyì].
"What does 'breaking faith and abandoning right' mean?
"It means breaking promises and acting immorally. They smile in your face and stab you in the back.
"And who are we talking about?
"That is Japan.
"Why do we say that?
"Because... this 2+2 meeting between the U.S. and Japan, the two countries openly attacked China from various angles, mentioning the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, etc. – making it look like they are more concerned about China than China is.
"What kind of behavior is that?
"[This is] behavior that is in total disregard of the truth, nakedly interferes in China's internal affairs, and tries to mobilize an anti-China containment.
"If [Japan] Always Dances To The U.S. Tune, If It Is Willing To Be Its Errand Boy, It Will Eventually Lose The Game"
Secretaries of State and Defense meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Source: Niutanqin)
"It's unsurprising that the U.S. would try to pull this off, but it's less obvious in Japan's case.
"It's important to remember that while Sino-Japanese relations have had their ups and downs over the years, they have recently picked up steam.
"Former Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo visited China at the end of last year, telling the Chinese side that Japan-China relations were gaining momentum and that Japan wanted to build a bilateral relationship that would meet the needs of the new era.
"Please take note of the following expectations for Japan-China relations in the new era: 'Although hills 'n rills set us apart, the moon and wind share our kind heart.' When the pandemic broke out last year, China and Japan banded together to fight it, demonstrating the goodwill we have shown toward one another.
"Abe also told visiting Chinese officials in February of last year that the people of Japan and China had shown friendship in their joint fight against the pandemic, and that he was looking forward to the Chinese leader's visit to Japan.
"In a phone call with the Chinese leader after he succeeded Abe, [Japanese] Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide also pledged that Japan places great importance on China, that Japan-China relations are one of the most important bilateral relations, and that he wants to push Japan-China relations to a new level, and do note – 'a new level.'
"Who would have thought that, with the promise still ringing in our ears, and despite the fact that China and Japan haven't had much of a violent conflict in recent years, Japan would join hands with the U.S. and stick a knife in our back?
"[Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson] Zhao Lijian made it very clear: Japan does it in order to satisfy its self-interested desire to contain China's rise and rejuvenation.
"In order to contain China, it is even willing to lose face.
"Most people in this world despise treachery and backstabbing more than they hate cunning and shamelessness.
"I've always been concerned that as Japan rallies to support the U.S., it will 'break faith and abandon right,' jeopardizing the good Sino-Japanese relations, which would be bad for Japan and the region as a whole.
"When Suga took office, I observed that, while the U.S.-Japan relationship is important to Tokyo, Japan is a major power. But if it always dances to the U.S. tune, if it is willing to be its errand boy, it will eventually lose the game.
"Japan Is The Biggest Problem And The Variable Of This Equation"
"I recall China's top leader [Xi Jinping] saying something along these lines during a meeting with Abe the previous year:
"'The world today is experiencing major changes not seen in a century. The more complex the situation is, the more we need to maintain a strategic determination to stay calm and the more we need to have a global vision to look high and far. To plan the Sino-Japanese relations in the new era, first of all, we need a clear strategic consensus.'
"This statement is indeed magnificent and far-reaching in its scope.
"What is a 'strategic consensus'?
"The leader [Xi Jinping] went on to say: 'We should insist on thinking and planning the relations between the two countries with a global perspective in mind, strengthen communication and coordination on the basis of mutual respect, seeking common ground while reserving differences, and actively promote the building of a new pattern and join hands in cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win situation.'
"This is the new pattern.
"Japan, in contrast, hides behind the U.S., occasionally sniping at China. It's as if Japan is clinging to the U.S.'s leg – but this is actually sickening to its neighbors. Neighboring countries are inextricably linked.
"More importantly, the future of world rivalry, I have always believed, is not only the rivalry between countries, but also between regions.
"Europe has the European Union; North America has the United States, Canada, and Mexico. But what about East Asia? ASEAN is too small; China, Japan, and South Korea should work together.
"The future rise of China, and thus the rise of East Asia, will be defined first and foremost by the integration of the Chinese cultural sphere. China, Japan, and Korea should become friends as the major countries in that cultural circle, and this is the best outcome for them. Turning powerful enemies into friends is a difficult task, but masterful great power diplomacy can make it happen!
"If we succeed, the overall benefit to the three East Asian countries will be worth more than a hundred Nobel Peace Prizes.
"However, it is disconcerting that Japan and South Korea have been feuding in recent months, with the U.S. pushing the envelope and Japan resorting again to backstabbing.
"Japan is the biggest problem and the variable of this equation. It must decide whether or not to engage in genuine soul-searching, whether or not to keep its promises, and whether or not the great trend will succeed.
"Abe's historical perspective is problematic. But when he went to Chengdu for a summit meeting between China, Japan, and South Korea in 2019, he said with great emotion that Chengdu is the capital of Shu, and that the three countries (Japan, China, and South Korea) are not the Wei, Shu, and Wu of the Three Kingdoms period; they are not in competition, but they should work together to build a "New Three Kingdoms Era" for common development with the international community.
"I recall Chinese leaders saying at the time, 'We can't use the same approach as 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms,' which is rife with rivalry and deception.' However, 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms' wisdom and integrity are worth studying together. Take note of the words – 'wisdom' and 'integrity!'
"The Chinese are most concerned about Japan's integrity. The Japanese are not lacking in wisdom, but have they any integrity?
"For the time being, China's most recent assessment of Japan is that it 'breaks its promises and abandons its right,' and is therefore held in contempt."
 Mofa.go.jp/na/st/page3e_001112.html, Maarch 16, 2021.
 Mofa.go.jp/na/st/page3e_001112.html, Maarch 16, 2021.
e243bdd70973ee51f73df6f3565e93ee1703bb78ae6b13&scene=4, March 18, 2021. Known for its colloquial and witty commentary on current events, Niutanqin is a "self-media" (as
opposed to state-run) account managed by Liu Hong, former long-time foreign correspondent and editor for the official Xinhua News Agency. Liu Hong, a graduate of
Nanjing University's Department of International Business, went to Kabul to cover the Afghan war in 2001 and worked as a Xinhua News Agency correspondent in Jerusalem from
2002 to 2004. Before he started "Niutanqin," Liu was the head of the Xinhua News Agency's official WeChat account and deputy editor-in-chief of its international affairs magazine, Globe.
 Mofa.go.jp/files/100161035.pdf, March 16, 2021.
 The spokesperson uses the idiom 狼狈为奸láng bèi wéi jiān, which roughly translates into "the wolf and the bei are in cahoots." According to Chinese folklore, the "bei" is a legendary wolf-like beast with disproportionally short forelegs that needs to climb on wolves to get around (and carry out its vile plans).
 In 2020, amid the Covid-19 epidemic, Japan donated medical supplies to China with encouraging poems. The sentence "Although hills 'n rills set us apart, the moon and wind share our kind heart" was printed on their donation boxes. See: Autonews.gasgoo.com/70016859.html
 China was divided into three "kingdoms" during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD) – Wei, Shu, and Wu – each claiming to be the legitimate successor to the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). The period was popularized in the 14th century by the Ming dynasty classic "Romance of the Three Kingdoms." Political maneuverings, legendary battles, and memorable heroes from the period depicted in the novel have become household names in East Asian countries, and the book has many expressions in the region's popular culture: movies, shows, games, etc.