Beijing has told Tokyo that China is “exercising self-restraint” in operating its coast guard ships near the Senkaku Islands amid rising security concerns over its new law that allows such ships to use weapons against foreign vessels, Japanese government sources said Saturday.
Tokyo has regularly criticized the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels spotted around the Japanese-controlled, Chinese-claimed islands in the East China Sea before and after the new law took effect on Feb. 1, saying that the islands are Japan’s inherent territory.
Still, Beijing said it will not stop its actions to prevent Japanese vessels from entering the waters around the islets, including the so-called contiguous zone outside Japanese waters, as it conveyed its policy under the new law for the first time.
Japan responded that China’s claim is unacceptable and maintained there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved over the islands.
The law explicitly allows the China Coast Guard to use weapons against foreign ships it sees as illegally entering Chinese waters and raised concerns that the legislation would target Japanese vessels navigating around the uninhabited islets called Diaoyu in Chinese.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on the day of the law’s implementation that China must not apply the legislation “in a way that is against international law.” But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier in the month that the measure does “not target any specific country” and is “in accordance with international laws and practices.”
The U.S. Defense Department last month criticized Beijing’s activities in waters near the islets, while expressing “support” for Japan on the issue.
Japanese government officials in late February confirmed their interpretation of existing laws under which Japan Coast Guard vessels could use weapons against foreign ships aiming to land on the islands.
China also has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam — as well as Taiwan in the South China Sea.
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