中国ガス田開発 実態公開して自制を促したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan reveals truth to stop China from accelerating maritime advance
中国ガス田開発 実態公開して自制を促したい

China’s self-serving moves to develop marine resources in violation of a bilateral agreement with Japan cannot be allowed. Japan must persistently urge Beijing to refrain from such actions.

The government announced Wednesday that China has been constructing a total of 12 new offshore platforms and related structures since June 2013 for the development of gas fields in the East China Sea, where Japan and China have yet to demarcate the boundaries.

The government also posted aerial photos of the structures and a map showing their locations on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

“It is extremely regrettable that China is unilaterally developing resources,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Wednesday.

It is appropriate for the government to convey the actual nature of China’s maritime advances to the international community, and try to restrain such actions.

Suga said the government decided to release the map and the photos because the Chinese government has accelerated its development of natural resources in recent years, while refusing to resume negotiations on the implementation of an accord in which Japan and China agreed to cooperate on the development of natural resources in the East China Sea.

Some within the government had called for caution about releasing the photos and the map, saying it would only cause China to take a tougher line. But Japan’s taking an excessively conciliatory stance would only benefit China, which is trying to secure its interests by accumulating a number of faits accomplis.

China’s foreign ministry responded to Japan’s criticism Wednesday by stressing that China’s development of gas fields in the East China Sea is “completely justified and legitimate.”

China’s reasoning flawed

As long as the bilateral boundaries have yet to be demarcated, the development sites are within disputed waters. It is illogical for China to try to justify its actions with the reasoning that the gas fields are on the Chinese side of the Japan-China median line.

Japan and China agreed in 2008 that both countries will jointly develop the Shirakaba gas field located near the median line. Both countries also agreed to designate specific waters stretching over the median line as the joint development area.

In 2010, China postponed treaty negotiations on the implementation of the 2008 accord, and the talks have been suspended ever since.

Japan needs to demand that China stop its unilateral development and call again for China to resume the talks at an early date.

The possibility that China will utilize the offshore facilities for military purposes is worrying.

China has been conducting reclamation work on rock reefs in the South China Sea and moving ahead with making these reclaimed reefs into military strongholds.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has pointed out the possibility of Chinese forces also utilizing the offshore facilities in the East China Sea to deploy radar and serve as operational bases for reconnaissance helicopters.

China unilaterally announced in November 2013 the establishment of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, a zone that includes the airspace over the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture.

Deploying radar near the median line would make it possible for China to cover areas that the radar on its mainland cannot.

Japan must heighten its vigilance by closely cooperating with the United States. It is also urgent to introduce a bilateral maritime liaison mechanism to avoid accidental clashes between aircraft or vessels of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese forces.

It is likewise important for Japan to improve bilateral relations from the viewpoint of a strategically reciprocal relationship with China, while also continuing to assert its position regarding Japan’s sovereignty.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2015)

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