Japan has lodged a protest with China over its apparent deployment of drilling rigs near the median line separating the two countries’ economic zones in the East China Sea, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.
“It is extremely regrettable that China is proceeding with unilateral development in the area, while the boundary between Japan and China in the East China Sea is not yet fixed,” Kishida, who doubles as defence minister, said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government protested through diplomatic channels after confirming China’s activity last month, Kishida said, adding Tokyo will continue to call on Beijing to stop the development of gas fields near the median line.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said that Japan is urging China to swiftly resume stalled negotiations based on a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development in the area.
So far, Beijing has developed 16 structures on the Chinese side of the median line between the shorelines of the two countries. Tokyo is concerned that China may siphon off resources from beneath the Japanese side of the line.
It is extremely regrettable that China is proceeding with unilateral development in the area, while the boundary between Japan and China in the East China Sea is not yet fixed
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
The latest activity by Beijing is believed to be aimed at boring for gas for development of a new structure, a Japanese government official said.
It was the first time since October 2016 that China’s mobile drilling ships were spotted near the median line.
Kishida, meanwhile, said Japan also has “great interest” in Beijing’s military buildup, adding China should “explain to its neighbouring countries about its security policy with high transparency.”
On Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping issued a tough line on national sovereignty amid multiple disputes with his country’s neighbours, saying China will never permit any loss of territory.
Xi’s declaration came during a nearly one-hour speech Tuesday in Beijing marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
China is engaged in a border standoff with India, disputes over islands with Japan and in the South China Sea, and has vowed to conquer self-governing Taiwan by force.
Xi said that the Chinese people treasure peace but will not permit any national territory to be separated by anyone under any circumstances.
The speech follows a parade Sunday during which Xi declared the military has the “confidence and capability” to ensure China’s sovereignty, security and national interests.
Kyodo, Associated Press