Japan voiced displeasure Tuesday about not receiving any new information on China’s gas exploration projects in the East China Sea during bilateral talks the day before in Beijing.
China, on the other hand, said it wants to continue the talks with Japan.
Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa criticized China’s stance and hinted the bilateral talks could be broken off if China’s position remains unchanged.
“We do not think China provided enough information,” Machimura told a news conference.
Nakagawa, minister of economy, trade and industry, said at a separate news conference, “I cannot understand why China proposed the talks.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing proposed that the two nations hold bilateral talks on the gas issue during talks with Machimura earlier this month in Hanoi, leading to Monday’s senior working-level meeting.
Japan has urged China to disclose details of the gas projects, saying it has the right to claim a share if resources are found in an undersea zone extending across the median line for economic waters.
But China has dismissed the call, saying it does not recognize the demarcation and that the gas explorations are under way in its own economic zone.
China also remained vague about the possibility of other exploration projects in the disputed waters, saying that Japan need not worry about them, according to Japanese delegates at Monday’s meeting.
“Our counterpart has proceeded with work to explore for gas regardless of the developments of the bilateral talks,” Nakagawa said. Japan will not proceed with the talks if China only seems to be playing for time, Nakagawa said.
Machimura hinted that Tokyo might consider stricter measures against China.
“I’m wondering if we should continue” to merely lodge a protest or demand more information from China, he said without elaborating.
The Japanese delegates earlier said the two sides agreed to stay in contact and might schedule another round of talks.
In Beijing, China’s official media reported Tuesday that Chinese officials want to continue the talks with Japan and resolve the issue.
In a diplomatically worded two-paragraph statement, Xinhua News Agency quoted the Foreign Ministry’s Asian affairs chief, Cui Tiankai, as saying that although the two countries differ on the boundary line, they should keep discussing it according to international law.
“We should use the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and via negotiations reach a peaceful resolution,” the statement said, adding that Chinese and Japanese delegations elaborated on every aspect of their East China Sea concerns.
“As for the present conflict surrounding Chinese and Japanese gas exploration, the two sides agreed to continue seek a solution through consultations,” the statement said.
A key issue is China’s Chunxiao gas field, which is only a few kilometers away from the “median line” proposed by Japan as a boundary for the two countries’ exclusive economic zones.
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