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BEIJING (Kyodo) A Chinese official on Tuesday rejected Japan’s claim to a median line between Chinese and Japanese gas prospecting zones in the East China Sea and defended his country’s recent moves in the area.

China is exploring “only in its own areas” of the East China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan claimed at a routine press briefing, so Japan “has no right” to request information about it.

He said Japan unilaterally established the median line, never consulting China, so its claim is not valid.

“According to my grasp of the situation, the Chinese side is carrying out some prospecting in the East China Sea area, and it is totally in the ocean near China, so in light of this situation, for the Japanese side, on its own, to suggest its claim to a median line and its request to provide informational material makes no sense whatsoever,” Kong said. “So I must solemnly point out here that we will never accept this median line.”

Chinese media reported Aug. 26 that China had begun a 470-km undersea pipeline to the 22,000-sq.-km Chunxiao natural gas field.

Japan claims the pipeline, due for completion by May, could breach its ocean economic zone.

Japan argues it has a right to claim its share if resources are found in the Chinese zone along the median line. To counter China’s evolving natural gas complex near the median line, Japan on July 7 began its own exploration, which is to run through October.

China hopes to negotiate with Japan over the gas fields, Kong said, and the government has previously suggested “shelving differences” with joint exploration of the area.

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