China and North Korea have angrily criticized a rare joint statement by the United States and Japan calling for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue.
China reacted sharply to the joint statement, part of a list of common strategic objectives issued in Washington late Saturday after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.
Saturday's statement was short and cautious, saying both Washington and Tokyo want to encourage the peaceful resolution of issues involving the Taiwan Strait. The statement referred to ongoing international uneasiness over China's naval expansion, and the expected passage next month of a Chinese anti-secession law that some fear would provide Beijing with the legal basis to attack Taiwan.
Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949, but China still claims the island as part of its territory, and has threatened to invade if Taiwan moves towards formal independence.
In remarks carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan blasted the Washington communiqué, saying Beijing opposes any bilateral statement from the United States and Japan that meddles in what Mr. Kong called China's internal affairs.
Analysts say Japan's decision to agree to the joint statement on Taiwan marks a subtle policy change. Tokyo has previously called for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan impasse, but until now has always avoided any linkage with Washington's stance on the issue.
Professor Tsung Kuang Lin is an expert on Chinese history at Drake University in the U.S. state of Iowa. He says Beijing feels the issuance of a joint statement by Washington and Tokyo undermines Chinese efforts to portray Taiwan as purely a domestic concern.
"The Chinese reaction to this is understandable," said Tsung Kuang Lin. "They've been doing this for years and in fact the anti-secession law is aimed at trying to make Taiwan issue a domestic issue, rather than an international issue."
North Korea - which says it is building nuclear weapons as a deterrent against what it perceives as a possible U.S. invasion - also lashed out at Japan following Saturday's joint statement.
The official North Korean news agency said Japan has joined what Pyongyang calls Washington's "hostile" policy toward the North. The commentary accused Japan of plotting with the United States to invade North Korea.