Photo/IllutrationWu Qian, a spokesman for China's National Defense Ministry, touches upon Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines at a news conference in Beijing on Dec. 27. (Takashi Funakoshi)

China took offense with Japan's newly approved National Defense Program Guidelines that included heightened concerns about the threat from Beijing.

"It is totally unacceptable," Wu Qian, a spokesman for China's National Defense Ministry, said at a Dec. 27 news conference. "Japan is tearing apart the limits of its pacifist Constitution and expanding its arms buildup. We call on Japan to abide by its policy of an exclusively defensive posture."

The criticism was apparently one reason for the lack of progress at a two-day session in Beijing between officials from the defense ministries of the two nations.

Japan and China started an emergency communications system in June to avert accidental clashes in and near territorial waters and airspace between the Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military. That system will serve as a foundation for a direct hotline between senior defense officials.

From Dec. 26, officials of the two nations met in Beijing for the first time to discuss the communications system. No decision was made on a hotline, with the two sides agreeing only to "accelerate coordination" between the two nations.

According to briefings from officials of the two nations, confirmation was made that the communications system was being implemented effectively. The two sides agreed to hold the next meeting in Japan next year.

However, one Chinese defense source said Beijing could not agree to setting up a hotline until it could further determine Japan's stance toward it, apparently in reference to the wording contained in the defense guidelines, which were approved Dec. 18.

(This article was written by Takashi Funakoshi in Beijing and Shinichi Fujiwara in Tokyo.)