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Japan's 'median line' in East China Sea is unacceptable
Updated: 2005-10-13 21:18

China will not accept the "median line" that Japan has established to divide oil and gas drilling territory in the East China Sea, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said ahead of a bilateral strategic dialogue in Beijing.

Japan and China have never discussed the median line some 400 kilometers east of Shanghai during three rounds of negotiations on gas exploration, Kong Quan said.

"This is a so-called median line that the Japanese side forced onto the Chinese side," Kong said at a press briefing. "Of course the Chinese side absolutely does not accept it."

The median line divides an ocean region where China has begun looking for natural gas in two places and where Japan has given Teikoku Oil Co. concessions to do experimental drilling.

Japan is concerned that China's Chunxiao and Tianwaitian projects, both on China's side of the line, may hit a gas pool that extends into Japanese territory. On Thursday, Japan lodged a protest with China over a shipment of pipes to its gas fields.

Competing drilling rights in the East China Sea may come up at the third strategic dialogue, a thematically broad sub-Cabinet meeting between Chinese and Japanese officials, Kong indicated.

The dialogue, which is designed to ease strained Sino-Japanese relations, begins Friday and ends Monday.

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi will meet with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo in Beijing.

Japan also has proposed holding another round of gas talks in Beijing next Wednesday, but a schedule has not been fixed.

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