Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China yesterday called on the United States to stop "stoking tension" over the disputed Diaoyu Islands as the US and Japan began a month-long military drill. For Beijing, the war games were designed with China in mind. Although Japanese and US officials have insisted the drill is routine, for China they are aimed at containing the mainland.
The sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku, has been dragging on for years. In the past few months, provocations and tensions have increased.
At present, the five Islands and three atolls are under Japanese control, part of Okinawa Prefecture. However, China continues to claim sovereignty. The issue pitting Asia's two biggest economic powers has alternated between hot and cold over the years.
It is unclear how valuable the Islands are. Some believe it is essentially strategic since they are located on one of the most important maritime routes. Others say the waters around the island are rich fishing grounds and that the seabed contains huge gas reserves.
In 2008, in a moment of détente, the two governments signed an agreement to develop the islands' resources jointly. So far, nothing has come of it.
China's official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary yesterday that the drill in the western Pacific served no purpose. What is more, it risked aggravating Sino-Japanese relations and jeopardising future efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of territorial disputes.
"The move also gives the lie to Washington's alleged neutral stance towards China-Japan disputes and gives birth to more suspicion over the true intentions of the United States in the Asia-Pacific," the commentary said.