Maritime Disputes: Taiwan ships approach Diaoyu/Senkaku islands; China cancels ceremony with Japan; Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister visits China

Updated On: Sep 25, 2012

As tensions rise over the disputed islands – known as Senkaku in Tokyo and Diaoyu in Beijing – China has received its first aircraft carrier.  The vessel, a former Soviet carrier called the Varyag will soon be in service with the China’s People’s Liberations Army Navy (PLAN).

Sea trials of the aircraft carrier, which began in August last year, have been met with widespread concern among regional powers and the international community.  China has however, reiterated that the carrier will not pose any threats.  After coming into service, the aircraft carrier will mainly be used for scientific research and training missions.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (pictured) has warned China that its actions regarding the territorial dispute could weaken China’s economy by scaring away foreign investors.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Noda said that “China should be developing through the various foreign investments it receives.”

“I hope for its levelheaded and rational understanding that anything to discourage that is a disservice to itself,” he continued.

In addition to China and Japan, Taiwan also claims the disputed islands. There have been protests from right-wing parties and civil groups in Taipei.  These groups have called for the boycott of Japanese products, and have expressed anti-Japanese sentiments.  They have also called for Taiwanese cooperation with China to resolve the dispute.  On Tuesday, dozens of Taiwanese fishing boats including six coastguard vessels entered waters surrounding the disputed islands. 

Report: China navy takes delivery of first aircraft carrier: Report [Straits Times, 23 September 2012]

Report: Japan PM Warns China on Dispute [The Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2012]

Report: Taiwan boats in disputed isle waters: Japan coastguard [Straits Times, 25 September 2012]

China Postpones Ceremony to Mark 40 years of Diplomatic Ties with Japan

Over the weekend, China announced that it would be postponing a ceremony with Japan that was to take place on Thursday, 27 September.   The ceremony was meant to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and China.  According to a Chinese official, the ceremony will be postponed “until an appropriate time”.

Japan has expressed regret over the cancellation of the ceremony, however, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura, has said that the cancellation of the event “should not influence Japan-China ties”, and it was critical that China and Japan “deepen strategic relations of mutual benefit”.

Report: China cancels diplomatic event with Japan over islands [BBC News, 23 September 2012]

Report: Japan regrets over China’s cancellation of ceremony [China Daily, 24 September 2012]

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister to visit China

In a bid to resolve the diplomatic dispute between Japan and China, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai visited China from 24-25 September 2012.  According to a Japanese official, during his visit, Mr. Kawai met with his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun “to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues based on the current situation”. 

Ahead of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesmen Hong Lei said that the two vice foreign ministers would pay special regards to the disputed islands.

Report: Japan to send foreign ministry emissary to China [Channel NewsAsia, 24 September 2012]

Report: FM spokesman: Chinese, Japanese Vice FMS to consult on ties [Xinhua, 24 September 2012]