Japan, Philippines to China: Respect law for Asian stability


The top diplomats of Japan and the Philippines have called on China to avoid intimidation and follow the rule of law in disputed waters where Beijing is defying an arbitration ruling that invalidated its vast territorial claims.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau, during a press briefing on Wednesday at the White House, said the US vehemently opposes any party that would threaten Japan's hold on the Senkaku Islands after more than 230 Chinese fishing vessels, including seven Coast Guard ships sailed near the group of islands over the weekend.

The collision took place "in worldwide waters approximately 67 kilometers northwest of Uotsuri Island of the Senkaku Islands", according to Japan's MOFA.

"The Senkaku Islands have been under Japanese administration since the reversion of Okinawa in 1972".

The accident came after foreign minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday called in Cheng Yonghua, Beijing's envoy to Tokyo, following what Tokyo called "intrusions" by Chinese ships near the disputed islands for five consecutive days.

Some 200-300 Chinese fishing boats were spotted sailing in the so-called contiguous zone just outside territorial waters, with some entering Japanese waters, prompting Tokyo to lodge repeated protests with Beijing.

While Beijing appreciated the rescue, that call was nearly certainly bitter sweet; this act of kindness comes in the middle of an escalating territorial feud between China and Japan. China brushed the complaints aside, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying saying, "The Chinese side is working to properly manage situation in the relevant waters". China also claims territorial rights to the tiny islands, which it calls Diaoyu, a position rejected by the global community.

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It added that all parties "looked forward" to the start of formal talks which it said would be continued in Beijing and Manila.

Against this backdrop, what seems to be a fairly routine rescue mission by a coast guard vessel takes on geopolitical connotations.

The Japanese coast guard on Monday spotted 15 Chinese coast guard ships near the islands - the highest number seen in the area.

Apart from the rescued, eight crew members aboard the Chinese vessel went missing. Both China and Japan sent out government ships for rescue work.

Some of Chinese netizens also expressed their own gratitude.

Prof. Carmen Lagman of the De La Salle University's College of Science claimants may also opt for joint, bilateral, or trilateral agreement for reefs that have been identified by scientists in four areas in the Spratlys as very important.