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Let East China Sea be a sea of peace, cooperation
Updated: 2008-06-18 22:20

BEIJING -- An online commentary on the Sino-Japan principled consensus on the East China Sea dispute at on Wednesday called for peace, cooperation and friendship on the sea.

The governments of the two countries announced on Wednesday that both sides had reached a principled consensus on the East China Sea dispute.

The consensus contained several key elements: the two sides will conduct cooperation in the transitional period prior to delimitation without prejudicing their legal positions; both sides jointly take the first step to conduct joint development on the northern part of the East China Sea.

The commentary said that the consensus, reached after more than three years of arduous consultations, manifested the calm, pragmatic and wise manner of both sides and their firm intention to make the sea a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.

China and Japan are separated by the East China Sea, which acts like a bridge for the two peoples to learn from each other and to conduct exchanges.

Under the current law of the sea, there emerged complicated disputes over maritime rights between the two countries, and the East China Sea dispute became an increasingly apparent sore on bilateral relations.

The development of long-term and stable friendship and cooperation of good neighbors is in the fundamental interests of both nations.

In order to properly settle the East China Sea issue, the two sides initiated consultations on the East China Sea issue in October 2004.

The stalemate in Sino-Japanese relations was broken in October 2006, and leaders of the two countries exchanged "ice-breaking", "ice-thawing", "spring-herald" and "warm spring" visits in succession.

Both sides agreed to establish and comprehensively promote a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship.

The improvement and development of bilateral relations injected vigor into speeding-up consultations on the East China Sea issue.

Both sides agreed this time to shelve disputes and take the first step on joint development, an important measure in properly handling the dispute.

The principled consensus marks the beginning of carrying out the principle of "putting aside disputes and seeking joint exploration" on resolving the dispute, a principle that has been repeatedly put forward by the Chinese since late 1970s, said the commentary.

It said the consensus is also a win-win result, explaining in four aspects.

In political terms, the consensus has shown the sincerity of China and Japan, and their ability to resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation: In security terms, it is conducive to peace and stability in the East China Sea and the region: in diplomatic terms, it is beneficial to the healthy and stable development of China-Japan relations and to promoting the building of a harmonious neighborhood and harmonious Asia: in economic terms, it will enhance China-Japan cooperation on energy and bring about benefits for both sides.

The commentary said there is a basis in international law, and there are many international practices, justifying joint exploration that does not involve sovereignty.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed in 1982, countries that have differences over sea borders can "enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature" before the final delimitation. This is without prejudice to the stance of the countries or to the final delimitation.

Joint exploration is a political arrangement acceptable to all that aims at surpassing differences, stabilizing and developing bilateral relations, and realizing mutual benefits, in a bid to create conditions for the final settlement.

Encouraged by the prospect of Sino-Japan cooperation, Chinese enterprises have welcomed the participation of Japanese legal persons in the development of the existing gas and oil field in Chunxiao in accordance with the law.

The implementation of this cooperation project will open a broad prospect for the cooperation between Chinese and Japanese enterprises on exploiting offshore oil resources, said the commentary.