China blasted Japan for a “selfish” claim over an area of the Pacific Ocean larger than France, reigniting a long-standing territorial fight between Asia’s two largest economies.
Japan has long claimed Okinotori, which is about halfway between Taiwan and Guam, as its southernmost island. China says it is merely a reef, and does not entitle Japan to benefits such as a 200 nautical-mile (370.4km) radius exclusive economic zone that would apply to an island under international law.
“Japan, in pursuit of selfish interest, has illegally staked claim to nearly 700,000 square kilometers of jurisdictional waters based on the tiny reef,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said on Tuesday, adding that this “undermines the overall interests of the international community.”
The uninhabited territory consists of low-lying rocks that have been augmented with concrete by Japan, in a precursor to similar, but more ambitious projects undertaken by China in the South China Sea.
Recognition of Japan’s claims could potentially constrain China’s naval activities in the area. Beijing has stepped up surveys of surrounding waters and its academics recently published a number of reports disputing Japan’s analysis, the Sankei Shimbun reported.
According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own bring no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Artificial islands do not have a territorial sea of their own under the law.
An international tribunal ruled in 2016 that China’s own efforts to assert control over the South China Sea, partly through territorial claims stemming from artificial islands, exceeded its legal rights under the UNCLOS. China refused to accept the ruling on procedural grounds.
In response to questions about China’s scientific reports on Okinotori, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Monday said that the country’s 2008 application to the UNCLOS Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf was based on plentiful scientific evidence.
South Korea also disputes Japan’s claims.
AT WASHINGTON SUMMIT: The agreement between the US and 14 Pacific nations came half a year after the Solomon Islands struck a security deal with China The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation. Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years
‘DEVOTED GUARDIANS’: A Chinese foreign affairs official said his nation’s diplomats would not ‘sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed’ China yesterday signaled no letup in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called “wolf warrior” stance has been counterproductive. As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties. “We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Most of the escaped gas is methane, the second biggest contributor to climate change and a ‘potent greenhouse gas,’ an oceanographer said Denmark on Tuesday said it believed “deliberate actions” by unknown perpetrators were behind big leaks — which seismologists said followed powerful explosions — in two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage amid the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine. Although filled with gas, neither pipeline is currently supplying it to Europe. “It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. However, she added that “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen
LANDING INCIDENT: A plane with 63 passengers was shot at by ‘terrorists’ from an ethnic minority militia, state news reported, although militants denied responsibility Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land on Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. Myanmar state television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It cited junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun as saying the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National