China and Japan have reached an agreement to establish a hotline for their disputes over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Japan’s Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi held a two-hour video conference with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe and expressed his grave concerns over Chinese coast guard ships activities in waters surrounding the Japanese administered Sentaku Islands.
The Diaoyu islands, also known as Senkaku islands have long been an object of a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.
Japan’s Defence Ministry released after the ministers’ meeting stating “Minister Kishi delivered that Japan opposes attempts of unilateral change to the status quo by coercion and that Japan possesses grave concerns against such actions, while pointing out individual events such as activities by People’s Liberation Army and China Coast Guard vessels.”
“China will firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. The two sides should focus on the overall interests of bilateral relations and strive to maintain stability in the East China Sea,” said a release from the Defence Ministry.
“We confirmed that the early establishment of a hotline between Japanese and Chinese defense authorities is important,” Kishi said.
“Since there are (unresolved) issues with China, we need to try and keep having candid communication so we can promote exchanges and foster mutual understanding and confidence,” Kishi added.
China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan is causing jitters in Japan because Beijing’s control of the island would bring Chinese forces within around 100 kilometres (62 miles) of its territory and would threaten key maritime trade routes that supply Japan with oil and other goods.
It would also provide China with bases for unfettered access to the western Pacific.
Last month, two Chinese ships had intruded into Japanese coastal waters near the disputed islands as Japan lodged a protest with China over the issue.
(With inputs from agencies)