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Japan says China ordered halt to marine survey
Japanese officials said yesterday, their coastguards were ordered by a Chinese ship to stop a marine survey in disputed waters at the weekend. It has been the test territorial row between the two countries.
The Japanese ship was conducting Sunday a two-day survey in waters about 170 kilometers north of Kumejima, part of Japan’s southernmost Okinawa prefecture, when Chinese authorities ordered them to stop, the coastguard said.
Both countries claim exclusive excavation rights of the Shirakaba or Chunxiao gas field, which lies in the disputed area in the East China Sea, where the economic zones of both sides overlap.
The Chinese ship “told our ship by radio to stop the marine survey aimed at drawing nautical charts,” a coastguard spokesman said. “We replied to them that this was a legitimate activity as we were in Japan’s exclusive economic zone and we have been continuing the survey up until now.”
He added, that the Chinese ship has been tailing the Japanese vessel since the survey began on Sunday.
According to Japan’s foreign ministry the Chinese demand is “unacceptable”, a ministry official told.
Similar incidents occurred in May and September 2010, when Beijing demanded Tokyo to stop marine surveys in the region, Japanese officials said.
It is not the only dispute between the two countries. Beijing and Tokyo also have a long-standing quarell over an uninhabited but strategically coveted island chain known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, which lies between Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea.
Earlier this month, a Japanese government-backed report had warned that Beijing’s intrusiveness in the South China Sea could soon have a negative impact on neighboring waters, adding to growing regional fears about China’s territorial aspirations.
Beijing and Tokyo came to diplomatic troubles in 2010 when a Chinese trawler collided with Japanese coastguards, leading to the captain’s arrest and detention.
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