Maritime status quo statement irks China

Kyodo

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced a joint statement issued by Japan, the United States and Australia last Friday condemning any attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea by “coercive or unilateral actions.”

“Even though (the three countries) are allies, they should not use this to interfere in disputes of territorial sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement released Monday.

China is observing a weeklong holiday that began with National Day on Oct. 1.

Hua was reacting to a joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and Australia, who met in Bali on Friday and expressed concern about China’s increasing naval assertiveness.

“(The ministers) opposed any coercive or unilateral actions that could change the status quo in the East China Sea,” the joint statement said, without naming any specific country.

Japan and China have been locked in a dispute over the sovereignty of a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

While Japan exercises control over the Senkaku islets, known in China as Diaoyu and in Taiwan as Tiaoyutai, Chinese Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly sailed into Japan’s territorial waters around the territory.

In their statement, the foreign ministers of Japan, the U.S. and Australia also called for “efforts to reduce tensions and to avoid miscalculations or accidents in the East China Sea, including by improving marine communications.”

Far-flung listening post

Kyodo

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera stressed the importance of having an eavesdropping facility on an outlying island in the Pacific to enhance surveillance, presumably of China.

“It’s important to gather information to protect our maritime rights, and a communications monitoring facility is something we must have,” Onodera told reporters during the visit to Iwoto Island, about 1,250 km south of central Tokyo. The island was formerly called Iwojima, site of a huge World War II battle.