China raises stakes in dispute over islands

Beijing: Tensions between China and Japan over a group of disputed islands reached a flashpoint on Thursday as China said it has deployed naval ships around the islets for the first time and slammed Japan for “internationalising” the dispute by raising it at United Nations.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun confirmed today that Chinese naval ships recently carried out patrolling and military training in waters off the Diaoyu Islands called Senkaku islets by Japan.

The confirmation came in response to Japanese media reports that two Chinese naval frigates were seen navigating waters off the Diaoyu Islands, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

This is the first time China has deployed naval frigates in the disputed waters. So far, it had been maintaining that it had sent a dozen maritime surveillance ships, akin to Coast Guard.

Also, over 1000 Chinese fishing boats which till recently kept off the area fearing detention by Japanese Coast Guard vessels began fishing around the waters.

Defending the move to deploy warships, Yang said Diaoyu Islands have been an inseparable part of Chinese territory since ancient times and it is legitimate for Chinese naval ships to carry out patrolling and training for military readiness in waters under Chinese jurisdiction.

Yang said the war of aggression by “Japanese militarists” had brought severe disasters to Asian people. “Japan should learn from history and strictly keep to a purely defensive policy to build trust with its neighbouring countries and the international society,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state television slammed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihido Noda for “internationalising” the island dispute by raking it up at the UN.

Noda, who addressed the UN General Assembly at New York, had told the media “as for the Senkakus, they are an inherent part of our territory in light of history and also under international law”.

“There are no territorial issues as such. Therefore, there cannot be any compromise that represents a retreat from this position,” he said.

In his speech at the UN Assembly Noda said “any state has a responsibility to protect peace, ensure the safety of its people, and protect its sovereignty, territorial land and sea. Japan will also fulfill such responsibility in accordance with international law,” Noda said.

“Any attempt to realise a country’s ideology or claim by unilateral use of force or threat is inconsistent with the fundamental spirit of the UN Charter and is against the wisdom of human being, thus absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

Although the Japanese leader did not specifically mention the dispute with China, he was obviously trying to invoke international law and the UN Charter to justify his government’s so-called “nationalisation” of the islands, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency said terming the islands “Chinese territory since ancient times”.

Reacting to Noda’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang said that ownership of the territory should be solved on the historical and legal basis.

Without naming Japan, Qin said that “some individual country” has ignored historical facts and international laws, openly violated territorial sovereignty of other countries, and openly denied the result of the world anti-fascist war.

“The country seriously challenges the post-war international order, but tries to take the rules of international law as a cover. This is self-deceiving. The country concerned must face up to history and earnestly abide by international legal principles, and cease all actions that infringe the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries,” Qin was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese Communist Party leader Jia Qinglin appealed to Japanese people to help return China-Japan ties to the track of sound development.

“I hope Japanese people from all walks of life will take the general situation of bilateral ties into consideration, overcome current difficulties and work with the Chinese side to put the ties back on a track of sound development,” Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said at a meeting with Japanese people from various circles in Beijing.

The China-Japan spat intensified in recent weeks after Japan bought the islands from a private owner.

While thousands held marches in front of Japanese missions in China and in some cases damaged Japanese shops and factories, China has announced the islands as its baselines for its maritime boundary and submitted its claims to UN.

State-run CCTV on Thursday said the Japanese company Nissan has decided to halt production of its cars in factories in China.
Several of Japanese firms were hit by violent attacks during the recent protests.

The Foreign Ministers of the two countries held talks on the sidelines of UN General Assembly on Wednesday while Vice Foreign Ministers held talks here to restore normalcy.