China calls Japan's gas drilling plan 'a serious provocation'

Thursday, April 14, 2005

China is protesting Japan's plans to authorize gas and oil drilling in disputed waters in the East China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters that China is protesting Japan's plan to allow drilling for gas and oil in disputed waters in the East China Sea, characterizing the move as "a serious provocation".

On Wednesday, Japan announced that they would begin processing applications to allow oil and gas drilling firms to explore in the disputed area, east of the "demarcation line" which has held up applications to drill in the area for decades.

"The Chinese and Japanese positions differ on that matter, but we need to continue talks from a big point of view, without inflaming conflicts, and to turn the sea of conflict into a sea of coordination," Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a news conference.

Qin Gang said that China reserved "the right to take further reaction," according to Xinhua.

"China has never ever recognized and will never recognize the demarcation line," Qin told reporters.

Japan's exploration of the disputed zone could start early next month, and will be defended by Japanese military vessels, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Protesters plan second weekend of demonstrations

Japan's latest move further inflamed Sino-Japanese tensions. Chinese activist Feng Jinhua plans to meet with his group to plan a second weekend of protests in China over Japan's actions.

"Expression of anti-Japanese sentiment and boycott of Japanese products is to be expected from Chinese citizens," Jinhua told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Thousands of anti-Japan protesters marched in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen last weekend.