China defense ministry acts as Japan buys its Diaoyu Islands


(Reuters) – Japan brushed off stern warnings by China on Tuesday and bought a group of islands that both sides claim in a growing dispute that threatens to deepen strains between Asia’s two biggest economies.

A territorial dispute between China and Japan has intensified with Beijing sending patrol ships near disputed East China Sea islands in a show of anger over Tokyo’s purchase of the largely barren outcroppings from their private owners.

The arrival on Tuesday of the two patrol ships of the China Marine Surveillance off the islands was meant to assert China’s claims, said the Chinese government’s official news agency, Xinhua.

The marine agency is a paramilitary force whose ships are often lightly armed, and Xinhua said it had drawn up a plan to safeguard China’s sovereignty of the islands.

BEIJING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) — The armed forces of China are completely opposed to the Japanese government‘s move to “purchase” the Diaoyu Island and two of its adjacent islands, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Geng Yansheng said Tuesday.

Xinhua said two marine surveillance ships had reached the waters near the islands to “assert the country’s sovereignty” (AFP/JIJI PRESS/File, Jiji Press)

Geng issued a statement on the Japanese government’s implementation of so-called “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands.

Despite strong opposition from the Chinese side, the Japanese government blatantly announced on Sept. 10 to “purchase” the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated Nan Xiaodao and Bei Xiaodao. This act is a severe infringment of Chinese territorial sovereignty, Geng said.

Geng said the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are China‘s inherent territory. China has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence surrounding this.

Geng said the Japanese government’s action and the so-called “island purchase” was totally illegal and invalid.

In the statement, Geng said since the start of the year, the Japanese government has endorsed right wing forces to clamor for the “island purchase” and even move in to “purchasing the islands” by itself. He said this severely harmed the general situation of the development in China-Japan relations.

Geng said in recent years, Japan has expanded armament under various excuses, frequently incurred tension in regional situations and repeatedly stirred up troubles on the issue of the Diaoyu islands. Such moves are worthy of high vigilance by its Asian neighbors and the international community.

“The Chinese government and armed forces stand firm and are unshakeable in its determination and will safeguard sovereignty over the nation’s territories,” Geng said.

“We are watching closely the evolution of the situation and reserve the right to take reciprocal measures,” Geng said.

Related:

TOKYO, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) — The Japanese government has exchanged the official contract on the purchase of Diaoyu Islands with Kurihara family whom the Japanese side called “the private owner”, NHK reported Tuesday morning.

Japanese Cabinet on Tuesday morning decided to disburse reserve funds to purchase part of China’s Diaoyu Islands, before signing a sales contract with whom the Japanese side called “the private owner” of the islands scheduled later Tuesday, it said.  Full story

BEIJING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) — Two ships of the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) have reached the waters around the Diaoyu Islands Tuesday morning to assert the country’s sovereignty.

The CMS has drafted an action plan for safeguarding the sovereignty and would take actions pending the development of the situation, the CMS sources said.  Full story

Hu states China’s stance on Japan ties, Diaoyu Islands

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda here on Sunday and made clear China’s position on its relations with Japan and the Diaoyu Islands issue.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the 20th informal economic leaders’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.  Full story

Top legislator reiterates China’s stance on Diaoyu Islands

TEHRAN, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Wu Bangguo said here Monday that Japan’s decision to “buy” the Diaoyu Islands is illegal and invalid.

Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, briefed Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani on the latest development concerning the Diaoyu Islands.   Full story

“Absolutely no concession” on Diaoyu Islands, says Chinese premier

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — Premier Wen Jiabao said Monday the Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory and China will “absolutely make no concession” on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Despite repeated solemn representations of China, the Japanese government announced Monday it would “purchase” part of China’s Diaoyu Islands from “private Japanese owners” and bring the islands under “state control.”   Full story

Full text of Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — Following is the full text of the Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China issued on Monday.

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

10 September 2012

Regardless of repeated strong representations of the Chinese side, the Japanese government announced on 10 September 2012 the “purchase” of the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated Nan Xiaodao and Bei Xiaodao and the implementation of the so-called nationalization” of the islands. This constitutes a gross violation of China’s sovereignty over its own territory and is highly offensive to the 1.3 billion Chinese people. It seriously tramples on historical facts and international jurisprudence. The Chinese government and people express firm opposition to and strong protest against the Japanese move.  Full story

Related post:

Japan’s buying Diaoyu Islands provokes China to strike back

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Japan-China Territorial Dispute is Serious, and Escalating!


The Prime Minister’s residence in Tokyo has a “war room.”  During the a.m. hours of July 11 the room was bustling as government and Japanese

English: Aerial Photo of Taisyoujima of Senkak...English: Aerial Photo of Taisyoujima of Senkaku Islands, Ishigaki City, Okinawa, Japan, 1978. 日本語: 大正島(尖閣諸島):沖縄県石垣市、東シナ海 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Self Defense Force officials studied intelligence and heard briefings on intrusions of three Chinese navy ships into waters around the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai Islands) claimed by Japan as its “exclusive economic zone”  (EEZ).

The three Chinese ships had entered Japan’s EEZ waters after 4 a.m. on the 11th.  They were met, followed, and ordered out of the EEZ by Japanese Self Defense Force ships.  They finally departed just after 8 a.m.

Later in the day, Japan’s deputy foreign minister summoned the Chinese ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and delivered a formal protest over the Chinese “intrusion.”

At the time, Japan’s foreign minister, Gemba Koichiro, was in Phnom Penh attending the ASEAN foreign ministers’ summit.  That day, the 11th, Gemba met in a hotel with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi.  The meeting was scheduled to take 30 minutes.  It continued for 50 minutes.

This could not have been a pleasant meeting.   Very likely, it was lacking in the normal diplomatic decorum.  Seemingly overnight, Japan-China relations have turned icy, bitter, and emotionally charged.

The Gemba-Yang meeting was the first since Prime Minister Noda announced on July 7 that it had become Japanese policy for the central government to purchase the uninhabited Senkaku islands–now privately owned by Japanese interests and administered by Okinawa prefecture–that are also claimed by China, which calls the chain “Diaoyutai.”

Gemba’s talking points with Yang were scripted by Noda who had told reporters on July 7:  “There can be no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are part of Japanese territory, both under international law and from a historical point of view.  The Senkakus are under the effective control of our nation, and there is no territorial issue with any country over the islands.”  (The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 8.)

How Yang responded we can only guess.  We can imagine that the two men talked—or shouted—past each other, uttering almost identical, conflicting positions.

The incursion of the three Chinese vessels was plainly a response to Noda’s announcement, and a signal from China that “nationalization” of the islands by Japan would be met by further escalation.

Tokyo mayor Ishihara Shintaro first touted in April the idea of purchasing the islands, now owned by a man from Saitama prefecture, by Tokyo municipality.  Since then he has continued to advance this idea, setting up a special team in the Tokyo government under his direct control, and raising donations from around the country that reportedly now total more than JPY 1.3 billion (USD 165 million)

Ishihara’s announcement drew a furious response from Beijing.  Also, a public comment from Japan’s ambassador to China, Niwa Uichiro, a former president of one of Japan’s largest general trading companies (sogoshosha), C. Itoh & Co.

“If Ishihara’s plan is implemented, it will produce a crisis in Sino-Japan relations. We cannot let it ruin everything we’ve done in past decades,” Niwa was quoted as saying by the Financial Times on June 7.

This statement raised hackles in nationalist circles and in both major Japanese political parties.  To hard-liners, such a statement displayed weakness and lack of resolve, and sent the wrong message to China.

PM Noda seems to have hoped to quell some of the controversy and unify Japan’s response by “centralizing” Ishihara’s initiative and making it a national government initiative.

The confrontation between Japan and China on the Senkaku/Diaoyutai issue has escalated to a truly dangerous level.  Objectively it must be stated that it has been Japan that has done the most to raise tensions.  Further escalation cannot be in the interests of either side.  While his leadership in domestic policy matters has generally been laudable, even brilliant, in relations with China on this issue he seems captive to interests that would lead Japan into a trap.

When Japan and China established diplomatic relations in 1972, Premier Zhou Enlai agreed that the issue of Daiyutai (Senkaku) could be put to one side until the time for resolution “was ripe.”  In 1978, when the two countries concluded an historic peace treaty, Deng Xiaoping said of the issue that it could be settled by “our children and grandchildren.”

Japan seems compelled to force the issue with China, while China would very likely be satisfied to live with the status quo, as long as Japan would acknowledge that it too has a claim on the islands and surrounding area.   Diplomatic negotiation of some kind of modus vivendi and mutual efforts at resource development and safe-guarding navigation would be possible on this basis.

Nothing so positive seems likely under current trends.  Quite the opposite.  Increasing, and increasingly dangerous, confrontation seems to lie ahead.

Stephen HarnerBy Stephen Harner, Forbes Contributor

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