Japan, China hold talks on maritime affairs

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Senior Japanese and Chinese officials are meeting inTokyo to discuss maritime concerns in disputed waters of the East China Sea.

“The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not only important for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the international community as a whole,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Hong Liang, head of the Chinese delegation, is director-general of boundary and ocean affairs in the foreign ministry, while Japan’s side is being led by Takehiro Funakoshi, its director-general of Asian and Oceanian Affairs.

Part of a regular round of talks that began in 2012, the meeting comes as Chinese warplanes and warships simulated strikes against Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen visited the United States and met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Ahead of the talks, Hong Liang said he was seeking co-operation in the maritime area with Japan, and expected an “in-depth conversation” with his counterparts.

A top spokesperson of the Japanese government said Japan had been following China’s drills around Taiwan consistently and “with great interest”.

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At the last meeting in November, Hong criticised Tokyo for commenting on China’s activity in the Taiwan Strait separating the island from the mainland.

He also asked Japan to pull its ships back from the seas around islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

The coast guard ships of both nations regularly confront each other in the waters around the Japanese-controlled islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku and in China as the Diaoyu.

While the United States has no position regarding the sovereignty of the territory, it has said it would regard any attempt by China to capture the islands as an attack on its ally.

Last month, China and Japan set up a military hotline to help defuse any air and sea incidents in the contested waters.


Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters 
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