Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MOFA silent on Chinese patrol boats

The region is moving ever-closer to naval confrontation in the waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyutai Islands

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday would not comment on reports that China was allegedly on the brink of permanently deploying large fisheries patrol vessels near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the ministry was not able to comment, as the Mainland Affairs Council was responsible for assessing the authenticity of the information and communications with China.

Chang said the ministry would closely monitor reports on the matter and restated the ministry’s position that all parties should set aside disputes and handle the matter peacefully and rationally.

A diplomatic official told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity that the deployment was related to Japan’s new defense guidelines, approved by the Diet on Friday, which painted China as a bigger threat than Russia and as a result was shifting its defense from the northern island of Hokkaido to the south, such as Okinawa and territories claimed by both Japan and China.

The Asahi Shimbun reported on Monday that an unnamed “senior Chinese official” at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries had informed it in an exclusive interview on Saturday that China could soon permanently deploy large fisheries patrol vessels in waters near the Diaoyutais.

This article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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