Recent Chinese military activities in the East and South China seas should come as no surprise. In the face of remarks by American and Japanese officials viewed as provocative by Beijing, it is natural that a nation should want to ward off threats to its sovereignty. An upcoming summit between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and United States President Joe Biden is likely to focus on Taiwan, around which much of the recent rhetoric has centred. Such discussion is not conducive to the region’s peace and stability; it leads only to tension and heightens the risk of conflict. Suga and Biden are scheduled to meet on April 16, the American leader’s first face-to-face talks with a foreign counterpart since taking office in January. It is a sign of the importance the new administration places in Japan, the US’ top ally in Asia and host of its biggest air and naval bases in the region. No secret has been made of China being a target; it has been declared Washington’s biggest economic, technological and military rival. American naval operations have been noticeably stepped up amid efforts to strengthen security alliances and pressure Beijing. A US aircraft carrier strike group sailed through the South China Sea on Sunday while an American missile destroyer was operating in the East China Sea. The Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning passed through the Miyako Strait off southwestern Japan en route to exercises near Taiwan, prompting Japan to mobilise a destroyer and surveillance planes. Chinese aircraft including fighter jets also flew near Taiwan, sparking the scrambling of a Taiwanese combat air patrol. China warns Japan to not follow suit after US sanctions Rival militaries operating in the same area at a time of rising tension is not what the region needs; accidental contact could too easily turn into armed conflict. Suga on Sunday also sparked Beijing’s ire by saying his country would work closely with Washington to calm what he perceived as rising tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Japan’s concerns about Taiwan are understandable given events involving the island being seen by Tokyo as a security issue, but it is also a matter of Chinese sovereignty. The prime minister has also been increasingly outspoken about Xinjiang and Hong Kong. His remarks follow the recent visit to Japan by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, during which concerns were expressed about China’s military build-up. There has also been increased talk within the Biden administration of a potential invasion by Beijing of Taiwan. Japan and the US well know Taiwan is a sensitive issue for China. Their actions send the wrong message to the Taiwanese government and risk triggering a fresh wave of nationalism on the mainland. The region needs diplomacy at such a time, not provocation.