At the EU-Japan summit on May 12, the two nations expressed serious concerns over the situation of the Senkaku Islands, East & South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, as well as human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Beijing has long claimed ownership of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it refers to as the Diaoyu Islands.

The joint statement said that European leaders strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions that could undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order.

They also warned of an increasingly assertive China while urging Beijing to defend the multilateral global order and China’s close relationship with Russia.

At a daily press briefing the next day, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian opposed Japan and the European Union’s remarks. Zhao called it an attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

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