En­voy re­buffs Diaoyu ac­cu­sa­tions

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn Zhang Yaozhong con­trib­uted to this story.

The Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Ja­pan on Tues­day re­buffed Tokyo’s protests over the pres­ence of Chi­nese ships around the Diaoyu Is­lands.

It is “nat­u­ral” for them to op­er­ate in Chi­nese ter­ri­tory, am­bas­sador Cheng Yonghua said af­ter be­ing sum­moned by Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida on Tues­day morn­ing. Kishida lodged a protest over the in­creased num­ber of Chi­nese ves­sels in waters around the Diaoyu Is­lands.

Ac­cord­ing to Ja­panese me­dia, Ja­pan has lodged at least six protests with China through var­i­ous chan­nels since Fri­day, on is­sues rang­ing from Chi­nese ships to an in­frared cam­era on a Chi­nese oil and gas field ex­plo­ration plat­form in the East China Sea.

It was re­ported that Cheng was also sum­moned on Fri­day by Ja­panese Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Shin­suke Sugiyama af­ter six Chi­nese coast guard ves­sels and six fish­ing ves­sels en­tered the waters.

Ky­odo re­ported that Kishida told Cheng that China-Ja­pan re­la­tions are “de­te­ri­o­rat­ing badly”. Cheng re­sponded that it is nor­mal for China’s ves­sels to sail in its own ter­ri­tory.

The move comes as the num­ber of Chi­nese coast­guard ships around the Diaoyu Is­lands rose to as­man­yas 13on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese coast guard — a record num­ber since China started send­ing ships to the re­gion in Septem­ber 2012 af­ter Ja­pan “na­tion­al­ized” the is­lands.

Ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press, Cheng told re­porters as he left the min­istry that the in­crease in China’s fleet was to over­see the in­creased ac­tiv­ity of Chi­nese fish­ing boats. The fish­ing sea­son in the East China Sea has opened.

“Please un­der­stand that it’s an ef­fort by the Chi­nese side to avoid fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions in the sit­u­a­tion,” Cheng said.

Yu Zhi­rong, a mar­itime stud­ies re­searcher at the China Mar­itime Devel­op­ment Re­search Cen­ter, said that be­cause of dis­tur­bances from Ja­pan, Chi­nese fisher men were forced sev­eral years ago to stop fish­ing in waters around the Diaoyu Is­lands, a tra­di­tional Chi­nese fish­ing ground.

“Now we are as­sert­ing our sovereignty rights. The protests made by Ja­pan are un­rea­son­able and null ,” Y us aid.

Huang Dahui, a re­searcher on East Asia stud­ies at Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China, said re­peated protests by the Ja­panese side are driven by hid­den po­lit­i­cal mo­tives, in­clud­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s ef­forts to amend his coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion.

Ja­panese me­dia re­ports say the re­cent es­ca­la­tion in China’s ac­tiv­ity may be seen as a warn­ing against planned vis­its by mem­bers of Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s Cab­i­net to Tokyo’s Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors war dead in­clud­ing a num­ber of war crim­i­nals, on the Aug 15 an­niver­sary mark­ing the end of World War II.

Also on Tues­day, Bei­jing said Tokyo is mak­ing a fuss by hyp­ing a nor­mal in­frared cam­era in­stalled on an oil and gas field ex­plo­ration plat­form.

The re­marks, made by the spokesper­son’s of­fice of the For­eign Min­istry, came af­ter Ja­panese me­dia said the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment be­lieves the move could help China im­prove its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity in the East China Sea.

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fice, the equip­ment the Ja­panese side men­tioned is a nor­mal in­frared cam­era, and its aim is to ob­serve the sit­u­a­tion around the plat­form and en­sure its se­cu­rity.

Cheng Yonghua, Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Ja­pan

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