‘History may repeat itself’: Chinese ambassador warns Australia to be wary of Japan | CNN



China’s ambassador to Australia says Canberra should be wary of its relationship with Japan, reminding them that Japanese troops attacked Australia during World War II and could do the same again.

“If we forget history, history may repeat itself,” said Xiao Qian, Beijing’s envoy to Australia, at a rare press conference at the Chinese embassy in Canberra on Tuesday.

“During World War II, Japan invaded Australia, bombed Darwin, killed Australians and treated Australian prisoners of war in a way that was humanly unacceptable,” said Xiao.

The Chinese ambassador also falsely claimed that Japan had not apologized for its actions in World War II regarding Australia, and could therefore repeat it.

Xiao made the comments after a journalist asked about comments from Japan’s ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, who said Australia and Japan should remain “vigilant” regarding China.

“We have to be vigilant because when it comes to policy and strategy, nothing fundamental seems to have changed on their part,” Yamagami said in an interview published in the Australian newspaper on Tuesday.

Xiao, the Chinese envoy, said the comments suggested Yamagami had overstepped his role as ambassador.

“My role as ambassador of China is to promote understanding, friendship and cooperation between China and Australia. It is not my role to establish myself in Canberra and criticize a third country at the same time,” said Xiao. “It is not my role as the Chinese ambassador to Australia to try to prevent Australia from developing a normal relationship with a third country.

“So I’m afraid our colleague from Japan isn’t doing his job.”

CNN has reached out to Yamagami’s office, but has not received a response. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying he was “baffled and perplexed” by Xiao’s comments.

Japan did not invade Australia in World War II, but Japanese attacks did reach the continent. From February 1942 to the end of September 1943, Japan carried out 97 air raids on military facilities and towns in northern Australia, killing 97 in an attack on the town of Broome.

Also in 1942, Japanese midget submarines shelled areas of Sydney and Newcastle, while other submarines attacked ships along Australia’s east coast, killing 60 people, according to the Australian government.

And Australians were among the tens of thousands of Allied servicemen captured and imprisoned by Japanese forces in World War II.

According to historical accounts, Japan has apologized for its actions during World War II in relation to Australia.

In 1957, during a trip to Australia, then Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi said: “It is my official duty, and my personal wish, to express to you and through you to the people of Australia our sincere sorrow at what has happened in the war,” according to reports from that time.

And in 2011, then-Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara apologized behind closed doors to five former Australian prisoners of war who visited Japan, according to news reports.

While relations between Australia and China have thawed in recent weeks with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong visiting Beijing in December, China’s relationship with Japan remains shaky, especially after Tokyo announced in late December that it would double its defense budget and acquire long-term contracts. ranged weapons that can hit China.

Tokyo is wary of Beijing over competing territorial claims by Taiwan and China to islands in the East China Sea claimed and controlled by Japan.

Meanwhile, defense ties between Japan and Australia are growing stronger, with their armies conducting joint exercises with each other and their mutual ally, the United States.

Paratroopers take part in a joint military exercise between Japan, the US, Britain and Australia at the Narashino training field in Chiba Prefecture on January 8, 2023.

Last week, Australian paratroopers took part in an airborne exercise in Japan, and last year their leaders signed an agreement to streamline access for their forces to each other’s bases.

For the most part, Xiao’s comments on Australia were positive, indicating that relations and trade issues between Beijing and Canberra were likely to improve.

But Xiao said there were “forces” in Japan that had “a twisted way of looking at China, a twisted way of looking at the relationship between China and Australia”.

“I hope that our Australian government and the Australian people will have a clear mind about what happened and be careful about what might happen in the future,” Xiao said.

“If someone threatens you, he can threaten you again. China has been your friend. We remain your friend.”

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