Research near Diaoyu Islands 'legitimate'

By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-07 07:03

China has expressed strong dissatisfaction through diplomatic channels over Japan's attempt to sensationalize Chinese research activities near Diaoyu Island.

The Foreign Ministry lodged representations with the Japanese embassy in Beijing yesterday, reiterating its position that Diaoyu Islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times and that China has indisputable sovereignty over the area.

"China will not accept any representations from the Japanese side assuming that the Diaoyu Islands are Japan's territory," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday at a regular press briefing.

Reports quoted Japan as saying it had spotted a Chinese ship early on Sunday that apparently was carrying out research in what Tokyo considered its waters in the East China Sea and lodged a protest with the Chinese Embassy.

"Normal maritime research carried out by a Chinese vessel means China is justly exercising its legitimate sovereign rights," Jiang said, noting that it had nothing to do with a six-year-old agreement under which each side would notify the other of activities in advance.

Jiang also denied a report by a Hong Kong newspaper that China had started production at Chunxiao gasfield in the East China Sea and began to supply the costal cities of Ningbo and Shaoxing.

"The reports do not comply with the facts," said Jiang, "and I am willing to emphasize once again that China's oil and gas exploration in the East China Sea is conducted in the undisputed continental shelves of China and it is a legitimate development activity".

She admitted that China and Japan do have disputes on the demacation in the East China Sea, but reiterated Beijing's position to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

China and Japan have held six rounds of talks on the territorial dispute in the region and agreed to maintain the consultation process in the future.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will travel to Japan next Thursday and his two-day trip is widely believed to pave the way for a trip by Premier Wen Jiabao in April.

During Li's trip to Japan, he will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, and other activities are still being discussed by the two countries, Jiang said. Li's last visit to Japan was in August 2003.

Before flying to Tokyo, Li will travel to India on Sunday to kick off a four-day tour to the country, where he will have an official meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and will also call on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Li is also scheduled to attend the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India-China-Russia to be held in New Delhi next Wednesday.

"The foreign ministers of the three countries will discuss economic co-operation and such talks will help the three sides to expand their common understandings and push forward the trilateral beneficial co-operation," Jiang said.

Foreign ministers of the three countries have so far met three times over the last two years on the sidelines of some international events and this is the first structured foreign ministerial meeting.

(China Daily 02/07/2007 page2)

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