China has described Japan’s annual defense review as misleading and malicious, saying it overplayed the “China military threat” and stoked tensions between the two East Asian powers, and stuck resolutely to its claims over a disputed island chain, Reuters reported.
In a paper issued on Tuesday, Japan called on China to halt construction of oil and gas exploration platforms close to waters in the East China Sea claimed by both countries. Tokyo is concerned that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japan’s territory.
In an escalation of the spat, Japan made public Wednesday a map and aerial photos of 12 offshore structures as evidence of China’s unilateral gas field development near the median line between its shoreline and that of Japan in the East China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the review ignored that China’s maritime activities were carried out in line with international law, according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website late Tuesday.
“The Diaoyu islands have belonged to China since ancient times … China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and Japan should not hold any unrealistic illusions,” he said, referring to a disputed chain of islets, also known in Japanese as the Senkaku.
The defense review had expressed worries that the platforms being built by China could also be used as monitoring stations near the islets.
The report also commented on the disputed South China Sea, where Japan and other countries have criticized Chinese land reclamation projects as a threat to regional security.
“China’s construction activities … are entirely within the scope of its sovereignty, and neither impacts, nor is it directed at, any country,” Lu said.
“We solemnly urge Japan to stop stoking tensions, provoking with contradictions and instead undertake more activities that are conducive to regional peace and stability.”
Making public a map and aerial photos of 12 offshore structures as evidence of China’s unilateral gas field development near the median line between its shoreline and that of Japan in the East China Sea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan has known about the structures since June 2013. The total number of such structures there is now 16.
The map and photos have been made available on the Foreign Ministry’s website, Nikkei Asian Review said quoting a Kyodo report.
Suga criticized China for continuing with its unilateral resource development that goes against a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development in the East China Sea.
While the two governments have yet to agree on a boundary between their exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea, Japan is concerned that China may siphon off resources from beneath the Japanese side of the line.