US urges China and Japan to end island row
Big News Network.com Wednesday 12th September, 2012
WASHINGTON The United States has urged China and Japan not to escalate their row over a group of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both nations and called for "cooler heads to prevail".
Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks after Beijing sent ships to the disputed islands following Tokyo's purchase of them.
"We think, in the current environment, we want cooler heads to prevail, frankly," Campbell said on Tuesday.
The group of uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan, is under the administrative jurisdiction of Ishigaki city in the Okinawa prefecture. The islands are known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan. They are claimed by all the three countries as the region is oil-rich and close to key international shipping routes.
"We have enormous stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability. We believe that peaceful dialogue and the maintenance of peace and stability is of utmost importance always but particularly now in this set of circumstances," Campbell said, and added that Washington will not take sides in the matter.
China sent two patrol ships to islands on Tuesday. This came after Japan sealed a deal to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner, Kunioki Kurihara.
Tokyo said that the purchase was intended "to maintain and manage the islands in a peaceful and stable manner for ensuring safe navigation" in and around the waters surrounding the islands.
The Chinese defense ministry in a statement Tuesday said its armed forces were opposed to Japan's move to "purchase" the Diaoyu and two of its adjacent islands.
Meanwhile, tensions between both countries continued to escalate, with the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei blaming Tokyo for the "grave condition" of China-Japan relations and warned that Japan must "pull back from the precipice".
"China will take necessary measures based on developments, and will staunchly protect national territorial integrity," he told a news conference.
In a related development, small groups protested at the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, while in Hong Kong, about a dozen activists fought with police as they attempted to enter Japan's consulate.
In Taiwan, which also claims the islands, about 50 protesters gathered outside Japan's representative office. Taiwan has recalled its representative to Japan.