After face-off with India, China embroiled in maritime dispute with Japan
Japan has begun the legal process of complete integration of an island chain over which it has a dispute with China. The development came just a week after the violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops over the Line of Actual Control. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in that clash in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
The Ishigaki city council in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture passed a bill to change the name of an administrative area covering the disputed uninhabited island chain to Tonoshiro Senkaku from Tonoshiro, starting October 1, according to media reports. The island group lies 1,931 km southwest of Tokyo.
The Senkakus island chain, which China calls Diaoyus, has been administered by Japan since 1972, but its legal status has remained disputed until now.
Calling the islands its “inherent territories”, China on Monday warned Tokyo against any change in the status quo.
Beijing urged Japan to “abide by the spirit of the four-principle consensus, avoid creating new incidents on the Diaoyu Islands issue, and take practical actions to maintain the stability of the East China Sea situation”.
However, the Japanese city council said that the bill was necessary to “improve the efficiency of administrative procedures”.
Since April, Chinese ships had been spotted by the Japanese coast guard, in the waters close to the Senakakus. The number of Chinese ships have only increased in the last few weeks with four of them sailing in the area even on the day when the bill was passed by the city council, reports news agency IANS.
Japan’s cabinet secretary last week reiterated that the Senkakus are under Tokyo’s control and “unquestionably” their territory historically and under international law. “It is extremely serious that these activities continue. “We will respond to the Chinese side firmly and calmly,” he had warned, the IANS report added.
The Senkakus island chain dispute with Japan is not the only territorial and maritime dispute that China has long had with many of its neighbours. It has island and maritime border disputes with Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea and its extension. The disputes include islands, reefs, banks and other features in the South China Sea including Spratly Islands (with Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan), Paracel Islands (Vietnam), Scarborough Shoal (Philippines), and Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam).
Last week, China’s air force approached Taiwan on Friday for the fourth time in four days, Taiwan’s military said, as China steps up manoeuvres near the island that Beijing claims as its own territory. The Chinese air force was given a verbal warning to leave, and Taiwanese jets “responded”, Taiwan’s air force said, without giving further details.