October 9, 2005

Energy exploration in the East China Sea is amplifying China's ongoing quarrel with Japan

The dispute deepened when it emerged that one of a fleet of five Chinese warships dispatched to patrol the area had pointed a gun turret at a Japanese navy P3-C surveillance aircraft on September 9.

In a television appearance at the weekend, Nakagawa said the action contravened an agreement between the Chinese and Japanese leaders that the East China sea should be "a sea of cooperation, a sea of peace".

Beijing, though, had little intention of playing down the significance of the vessels' presence. The Xinhua news agency said the squadron was capable of "fighting during wars" and was equipped to "eliminate obstacles at sea".

Though they publicly accept that the warship had no intention of firing at the aircraft, Japanese officials are privately furious that China used the dispute to indulge in a spot of military posturing. By placing a fleet of warships in the area, they said China had engaged in a provocative show of force, adding that Tokyo would continue to pressure for the vessels' withdrawal.

No comments: