China has violated an agreement with Japan by continuing to develop a gas field in a disputed area in the East China Sea, a press report said yesterday.
The neighbors struck a deal in June last year to end a lingering spat over four Chinese undersea gas fields which, Japan said, extend or potentially extend into its exclusive economic zone.
Under the deal, Japan and China would jointly develop the gas fields. Japan agreed to invest in one of them while the two sides continued talks on the remaining three.
But Japan said that China has since begun exploring one of the disputed fields, named Tianwaitian, the Sankei Shimbun reported, citing unspecified government sources.
“There is a strong possibility that China has completed drilling work and entered the stage of production” in the field, the Sankei said.
Japanese patrol planes spotted brown discoloration and fierce bubbling of water near a platform in the Tianwaitian field in July and afterward, the paper said.
The phenomena might be a sign of underwater drilling, the Japanese Resources and Energy Agency was quoted as saying.
Long pipes were seen being removed from the platform in October after they had been there since June, indicating that they had been used in drilling, the Sankei said.
“The Chinese side has insisted on its own development of the fields and our fears that they might go ahead with unilateral development have become a reality,” a government official was quoted as saying.
China insists its sovereign economic zone in the East China Sea extends over its continental shelf — almost to Okinawa.
But Japan considers the midway point between the shorelines of the two countries as the economic boundary while their 370km exclusive economic zones overlap.