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China's Diaoyu Islands dispute escalating

Diaoyu Islands, the eight uninhabited islands and rocks lie in the East China Sea. They have a total area of about 7 square km and lie east of the Chinese mainland and southwest of Japan's southern-most prefecture, Okinawa. They matter because they are close to strategically important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and are thought to contain oil deposits. Photo: AP

Latest news

  • China: Chinese surveillance ships continue patrol around Diaoyu Islands
  • Japan: Noda to address the UN General Assembly over Diaoyu Islands
  • US: US 'will not take sides over islands,' says US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

 

Chinese marine surveillance ships continued patrol and law enforcement activities around the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said.

During the patrol, the Chinese surveillance ships (10 in total) encountered interception from the Japanese side. Japan sent six vessels and three planes (a fixed-wing plane, a helicopter and an anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft) to the area, according to the SOA.The SOA said the Chinese ships declared Chinese government's stand on the Diaoyu Islands to the Japanese side during the encounter.

China's defense chief Liang Guanglie on Tuesday expressed the hope that the Diaoyu Islands issue with Japan will be peacefully resolved but he warned of "further actions."

After his talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Beijing, Liang told reporters, "We pay close attention to the development of the (Diaoyu Islands) issue and we reserve the right to take further actions, but we hope the issue will be properly resolved through peaceful ways and negotiations."

Washington will not take sides over the Diaoyu Islands and urges a peaceful resolution amid escalating tension, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Tokyo on Monday before arriving in Beijing.

Penetta made the remarks during talks with Japanese government officials in Tokyo.

"The important thing in relations between Japan and China is to avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment," Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said, noting the need for stronger communication and not to further escalate the situation.

Panetta also discussed with Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto the deployment of the Osprey aircraft at a Marine base in Okinawa, a plan that has provoked strong local opposition.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has addressed the Diaoyu Islands issue and Japan’s future policy toward China on a TV program early this week.

Noda said the government will keep on strengthening its guard around the Islands. As for Japan’s future policy toward China, Noda said the two are neighboring countries with close economic ties.

The relationship should be maintained. And the current dispute should be handled calmly. He also said if he is re-elected as party leader on Friday, he will address the UN General Assembly session later this month on Japan’s territorial issues concerning China and South Korea.

History

The islands have appeared on maps of China since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Fishermen from Taiwan and Fujian and other provinces have fished and collected herbs in this area for many generations. Records about the islands were published in a book during the rule of Ming emperor Yong Le (1403-1424), more than 400 years before Japan says it discovered the Diaoyu islands in 1884.

In 1895, through a war of aggression against China, Japan forced the Qing Government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, and forcibly occupied the province of Taiwan. When Taiwan was returned in the Treaty of San Francisco, China says the islands - as part of it - should also have been returned.

 

Major events

April 16: Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said that the metropolitan government plans to buy theDiaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

April 17: China reiterated that the Diaoyu Islands and other affiliated isles have been an inherent part of Chinese territory since ancient times, and China holds indisputable sovereignty over them.

April 27: Ishihara announced that the metropolitan government had set up an account for people to send money to help it purchase the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, the Japan Times reported.

July 7: On the 75th anniversary of the July 7 Incident, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said his government was negotiating with a "private owner" to "nationalize" part of the Diaoyu Islands.

"China's holy territory is not 'up for sale' to anyone," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in response to remarks Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made on Saturday.

Aug 23: When the fishing boat Kai Fung No 2 drew alongside the public pier at Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday, a crowd of supporters erupted in cheers. On board were seven activists from the group of 14 Chinese who sailed to the Diaoyu Islands to assert China's sovereignty.

Aug 27: Japanese media said the Japanese government intends to buy the Diaoyu Islands in a bid of 2 billion yen.

Sept 2: Tokyo completed the investigation of the Diaoyu Islands waters

Sept 5: The Japanese government and the island owner reached a preliminary agreement of purchase; the owner denied.

Sept 11: The Japanese government has exchanged the official contract on the purchase of Diaoyu Islands with Kurihara family whom the Japanese side called "the private owner".

China's civil patrol ships Tuesday reached the watersaround the islands to start patrolling and showing China's sovereignty over these islands.

Sept 14: China sent its maritime surveilance ships to waters around  Diaoyu   Islands .

Sept 15: The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) released a string of geographiccoordinates of the Diaoyu Island and some of its affiliated islets, in a new move to affirm China's sovereignty.

Sept 16: Beijing announced it will submit a partial submission concerning the outer limits of thecontinental shelf to the United Nations in its latest move to defend its maritime sovereignty.Newly-appointed Japanese Ambassador to China Shinichi Nishimiya died in a hospital in Tokyo.

Sept. 17:  U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, right, is greeted by Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo Monday. Panetta, who is on the first official stop of a three nation tour to Japan, China and New Zealand, says that U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to put a second missile defense system in Japan. The exact location has not yet been determined. Photo: AP 

Sept. 18: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, stands at attention next to China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China Tuesday. Photo: AP


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