In veiled criticism of China, Abe urges unity against attempts to alter status quo

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged other countries Saturday to join forces in halting attempts to alter the status quo in Asia by force, taking aim at China’s assertive territorial claims in the region.

During a visit to Malaysia, the former Japanese leader said in a speech that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine poses a “serious threat” to the international order.

“Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or economic coercion pose a serious threat in Asia, too,” Abe said. “We should raise a voice of opposition in unison.”

He was apparently referring to China’s ambition to seize Taiwan, Beijing’s militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the South China Sea, and repeated incursions by Chinese ships into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

Abe is on a four-day visit to Malaysia through Sunday as a special envoy of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in commemoration of the 65th anniversary this year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Southeast Asian country.

In his speech, Abe commemorated the 40th anniversary of Malaysia adopting the “Look East” policy aimed at emulating Japan’s work ethic, and said Tokyo will continue to fully assist the initiative as a partner.

Abe currently serves as a House of Representatives member and heads the largest faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

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