08/27/2013, 00.00
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Beijing flies into Senkaku / Diaoyu airspace fueling tension in East China Sea

The aircraft coasted the airspace of the archipelago that is disputed between China and Japan. The Japanese Defense Ministry: "We are ready to do whatever is necessary to protect our territories." Chinese Foreign Ministry: "On this basis there can be no constructive dialogue to resolve the issue."

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Chinese Air Force fighter jet yesterday coasted along the airspace of the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands, claimed by Tokyo and Beijing, sparking the immediate reaction of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. This was confirmed by the Japanese Defense Ministry, according to which Tokyo's military jet are "ready for action" to defend the national sovereignty over the archipelago. This is just the latest provocation in the long running bilateral dispute, which for months has stirred the East China Sea.

Just this morning, Chinese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Li Baodong said that China "sees no valid reason" to negotiate with Japan over the sovereignty of the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands. The words, uttered just days before the G20 involving both Xi Jinping that Shinzo Abe, come in response to the proposal made by the Japanese prime minister for a "high level meeting" to settle the issue.

Li pointed out that the Japanese demands "are not genuine. A meeting between leaders is not simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems. If Japan wants to arrange a meeting to resolve problems, they should stop with the empty talk and doing stuff for show". The deputy minister also ruled out a bilateral meeting on the margins of the summit, to be held in St. Petersburg on September 5.

Tokyo bought three of the five islands from private owners in September 2011, a move that angered Beijing, which responded with a campaign to assert its political and military sovereignty over the area. Taiwan is also involved in the dispute. Taipei has proposed to develop the area jointly without focusing on ownership.

The value of the archipelago is not clear. Some consider it strategically important given its location in one of the busiest shipping lanes. Others believe that in addition to rich fishing grounds, the seafloor around the islands hold vast gas reserves. In 2008, in a gesture of détente, Beijing and Tokyo signed an agreement for joint development and research on the islands, which, however, was never implemented.



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