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- China’s top diplomat Wang Yi reminded Japanese and South Koreans of their ethnicity.
- He said they can “never become Westerners,” calling for closer cooperation between their nations.
- “We have to know where our roots are,” Wang said at an annual forum on international relations.
China’s highest-ranking diplomat urged Japan and South Korea to cooperate more closely with Beijing, saying they can change their looks but will “never become Westerners.”
“It doesn’t matter how much you dye your hair blonde, how sharp you make your nose, you’ll never become Europeans or Americans. You’ll never become Westerners,” Wang Yi told South Korean and Japanese guests at a conference in Qingdao on Monday.
“We have to know where our roots are,” the diplomat said, according to a recording of the conversation shared by Chinese media.
Most Europeans and Americans aren’t able to tell Chinese, Japanese, or Korean people apart, Wang added.
Wang, who was speaking at the annual International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation, said the three nations should raise a “clear signal” that they want to work together, adding that they should resist a “Cold War mentality” and push back against “bullying and hegemony.”
The diplomat’s comments come amid rocky US-China relations over Taiwan, chip restrictions, and accusations of Beijing spying on the US with a balloon. Tensions continued to sour in June as President Joe Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator,” as State Secretary Antony Blinken visited Beijing to ease the relationship between both nations.
South Korea and Japan, close US allies, have recently publicly aligned with Washington on several hot-button issues, releasing joint statements with the White House on Taiwan in the last two years. Both nations have also conducted high-profile military drills with the US this year.
Washington has sought to curb China’s growing influence in the rest of Asia, as Beijing pursues closer ties with countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.