A day after the flare-up with Japan over the disputed Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, China said on Friday that it had provided detailed claims to waters beyond 200 nautical miles in the region to the United Nations.
The document said that Beijing's claims extended beyond the continental shelf off the Chinese coast in East China Sea region, till about 124 nautical miles from Japan's Okinawa islands.
"Physiognomy and geological characteristics show that the continental shelf in the East China Sea is the natural prolongation of China's land territory," state-run Xinhua said quoting from the document submitted to the UN.
"The natural prolongation of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough, which is an important geographical unit featuring remarkable partition. The width of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea is measured more than 200 nautical miles from the baselines of the territorial sea of China," the document said.
The timing of the report's submission is being seen as Beijing's attempts to bolster its claims over the Diaoyu (Senkaku in Japanese) islands.
On Thursday, Japan scrambled eight F-15 jets after a Chinese marine surveillance aircraft was spotted over the disputed islands. It was for the first time in the ongoing dispute that both countries had used aircraft in an apparent show of strength.
In Beijing, the government said on Friday that it was necessary to send marine surveillance planes in airspace over the Diaoyu Islands in order to safeguard its sovereignty.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks while commenting on Japan's representation over China's marine surveillance plane flying over the Diaoyu Islands on Thursday.
"The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets, including the sovereignty of the waters and airspace over the region, belong to China," Hong said.
He noted Japan had deployed ships and planes to illegally enter the waters and airspace over the Diaoyu Islands since September, to which China firmly opposed.
On the submission of the documents, Xinhua reported that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its relevant provisions, if the continental shelf of a coastal state extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the width of the territorial sea is measured, information on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles shall be submitted by the coastal state to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the UNCLOS.
In September, the Chinese government decided to submit to the commission the information on the outer limits of the Continental Shelf Beyond 200 Nautical Miles.
In May 2009, the Chinese government submitted to the commission its Preliminary Information Indicative of the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf Beyond 200 Nautical Miles.