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Saturday, July 16, 2005

People's Daily Online -- Japan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": report

People's Daily Online -- Japan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": reportJapan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": report
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Japan is stamping on China's maritime rights by granting Japanese firm Teikoku Oil Co the right to test drill for gas and oil in a part of the East China Sea disputed by the two countries and muddying the waters of the East China Sea, the China Daily said in an editorial Saturday.

Japan's move could lead to confrontation with China, it warned, citing that the Chinese government's calls to solve the dispute through negotiation have fallen on deaf ears in Japan.

Giving Teikoku the go-ahead to test drill is a move which makes conflict between the two nations inevitable, though what form this clash will take is hard to tell, the daily said.

It said that Japan's attempt to force gas exploration in an area beyond the Okinawa submarine trench has many motivations:

-- Japan's need for oil is not a new issue. The island country has secured several oil suppliers. Gas resources in the area near the Diaoyu islets are unlikely to quench its thirst for oil.

-- Japan's unilateral action to start drilling, which flies in the face of international maritime laws, is not simply about new sources of energy. It reveals plainly the country's intention to take China Diaoyu islets for good.

China and Japan have long been divided over the demarcation of the continental shelf of the East China Sea. China has insisted on negotiation and appealed for joint exploration but Japan drew a "median line" without consulting China.

Japan has unilaterally demarcated a controversial exclusive economic zone (EEZ) along the "median line," which sits on the Chinese side of the continental shelf, and on which China enjoys exclusive rights.

China has never accepted the line. But Teikoku's test drilling will be conducted east of the "median line," said the China Daily said.

China's oil and gas exploration in the East China Sea is being carried out in this country's indisputable coastal waters and is a matter within the scope of China's sovereignty.

The Japanese oil firm originally applied for exploration rights in the area in 1969 and again in 1970. The Japanese Government shelved the applications because of the unsettled EEZ demarcation in the waters dividing the two countries.

With the issue inconclusive, the nod from today's Japanese leaders will only serve to fan the flames of trouble.

According to the paper, given the important role energy issues play in the two countries, communication on the subject is bound to have a huge bearing on state-to-state relations.

Keeping a cool head and flexibility may be the way to shoot down disputes like this, it said.

But Japan has strayed from the path of dialogue. If a confrontation were to result, the blame would sit firmly with Japan, it said.

Source: Xinhua

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