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Cover Stories Series 2013> Monitoring East China Sea Airspace> Archive
UPDATED: September 24, 2012 NO. 39 SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
Containing a Crisis
China calls on Japan to return to negotiations over the Diaoyu Islands dispute
By Ding Ying

Fourteen Chinese ships carried out law enforcement and patrol activities in waters around the area on September 18. As fishing season begins, more than 1,000 fishing vessels from China's mainland and Taiwan also set out to fish in the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands.

The Chinese Government kept reiterating its stance on protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Japanese right-wing activists' illegal landing on the Diaoyu Islands is a serious provocation that infringes on China's territorial sovereignty, and thus, China has made solemn representations to Japan and demanded that the country explain its endorsement of right-wing activists," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on September 18 in comments addressing two Japanese right-wing activists' illegal landing earlier that day. He stressed that in accordance with Chinese laws and international law, China will exercise jurisdiction over the islands and their adjacent waters.

Hong said the Japanese Government's decision to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands is a serious violation of China's territorial sovereignty and has triggered strong protests from China. He mentioned that China's countermeasures, including the announcement of the base points and baselines of the Diaoyu Islands, surveillance fleets' patrol activities around the islands and the submission of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in the East China Sea to the UN, have effectively offset the legal consequences of Japan's move. He said Japan should "return to the track of negotiations" for the settlement of disputes.

Meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping iterated Japan's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands was a farce and urged Japan to stop any behaviors that infringe upon China's sovereignty. "Japan should rein in its behavior and stop any words and acts that undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Xi stressed, adding Japan's "purchase" had openly questioned the legal effects of the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation and intensified the neighbors' territorial disputes.

Xi said China hopes the U.S. side can stick to the principle of regional peace and stability and speak and act cautiously, instead of getting involved in the Diaoyu Islands issue, or doing anything that might escalate current tension.

China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie expressed hopes that the Diaoyu Islands issue will be peacefully resolved, but he warned of "further actions" on September 18 after his talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta in Beijing. "We reserve the right to take further actions, but we hope the issue will be properly resolved through peaceful means and negotiations," said Liang. "I want to make it clear that the Diaoyu Islands are China's inherent territory, which is evidenced by history and law," he added, blaming Japan for "heating up" the Diaoyu Islands issue. Recently, the People's Liberation Army conducted a series of military exercises using different forces in several military regions.

"China must carry on law enforcement in the waters around the Diaoyu Islands, leaving no excuse for Japan's aggressive action of increasing tension," said Shi Yongming from the CIIS. He believed there might be a long-term stalemate between China and Japan on this issue. To Shi, the Chinese people's spontaneous resistance of Japanese goods is more effective than economic sanctions.

"Economic sanctions are an official action, which might agitate tension in the region. Currently, the most important thing is to contain the bilateral conflict over the Diaoyu Islands issue," said Shi Yongming.

Shi Yinhong pointed out that the Chinese Government has yet to impose any sanctions, but that does not mean China will never resort to economic means when its rights are offended. He acknowledged that economic sanctions will certainly bring about a negative influence on China's economy as well, but added that national dignity and territorial integrity are worth the price.

Email us at: dingying@bjreview.com

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