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China Daily Website

Chinese naval drill legitimate

Updated: 2012-02-04 07:21
By Zhang Yunbi ( China Daily)

BEIJING - China on Friday dismissed Japan's concerns about Chinese naval ships traveling through international waters in the Okinawa Islands, saying it is just a regular drill.

The Ministry of National Defense said in a statement that the vessels are en route for the western Pacific Ocean as part of a regular training exercise.

"China enjoys legal rights including sailing through international waters, and the naval exercise has conformed to international laws and regulations," the statement said.

According to Kyodo News Agency, four Chinese frigates sailed between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island in southern Japan. Japan's coast guard has its surveillance aircraft and ships on alert and monitoring the situation.

The reported route is expected to go between the two islands through a channel of international waters, which is about 300 km wide.

Osamu Fujimura, Japan's cabinet secretary, said on Friday afternoon that the ships "have yet to enter the territorial waters (of Japan)", and they "have not been confirmed as dangerous or made movements that violate international laws", Japan's Jiji Press News Agency reported.

Experts said Tokyo is "overreacting" and exaggerating the matter.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the channel is "the most convenient route" to the Pacific Ocean for Chinese ships.

"The regular naval drill in the western Pacific Ocean is no harm to Japan's security," Zhou said.

Also on Friday, Beijing expressed strong dissatisfaction over remarks by Japanese senior officials about China's Tianwaitian gas and oil deposit. Liu Weimin, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the country's stance on the East China Sea issue has been clear and consistent.

The deposit is located in undisputed Chinese territorial waters and does not apply to the principles of consensus concerning the East China Sea issue.

The Tianwaitian operation is "justifiable and reasonable", Liu said. He urged Japan to correctly apply the principles of consensus between the two countries.

Japanese media has accused Beijing of "violating the agreements reached by both countries" and "unilaterally developing" the Tianwaitian deposit.