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Japan gives Vietnam six ships to boost maritime patrols
by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) Aug 01, 2014


Philippines to table action plan over China sea rows
Manila (AFP) Aug 01, 2014 - The Philippines said Friday it would table a "triple action plan" at a regional meeting to ease tensions and resolve rows between China and rival claimants to the strategic South China Sea.

China claims most of the sea, even waters close to the shores of its neighbours, and tensions have heightened in recent months over what is perceived as the Asian giant's increasingly aggressive moves to assert those claims.

China's deployment of a deep-sea oil rig in South China Sea waters also claimed by Vietnam led to clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in May and triggered deadly riots across Vietnam that targeted Chinese people and foreign-owned businesses.

"These tensions have strained relations among countries, increased levels of mistrust, and heightened the dangers of unintended conflict in the region," said a Philippine foreign department statement outlining the plan.

The Philippines said it was set to table a "triple action plan" containing immediate, intermediate, and final approaches to address the destabilising activities at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meeting in Myanmar next week.

It would call for an immediate "moratorium on specific activities that escalate tension" in the area, it said.

Manila would also call for the full implementation of a 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea, as well as for a settlement mechanism anchored on international law to resolve the disputes.

China's territorial claims overlap those of Taiwan as well as ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Philippines has asked a United Nations tribunal to declare China's claims as against international law.

ASEAN also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

The Myanmar meetings will also involve talks between the ASEAN foreign ministers and counterparts from the bloc's main regional trading partners -- China, Japan and South Korea.

There will also be a regional security dialogue involving 27 countries, including the ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Russia, and Australia.

Japan's naming of disputed islands a 'farce' says China
Beijing (AFP) Aug 03, 2014 - China's state media on Sunday slammed Japan's move to name islands at the edge of its territorial waters claimed by Beijing as a "farce", saying they already had Chinese names.

Tokyo on Friday named 160 uninhabited islands in the East China Sea which include five in an archipelago known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China over which the two nations have long been at loggerheads.

"Japan's naming farce can't change China's sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands," was the headline of a commentary in China's state-run news agency Xinhua.

"Japan may believe that giving names to those islets is a show of its sovereignty, but it has to be reminded that those islets have already got a Chinese name," it added.

China's foreign ministry, reacting after Tokyo's move, described the action as "illegal and invalid" and said it did not "change anything to the fact" that the islands belonged to China.

"China is resolutely opposed to Japan's actions infringing China's sovereign rights," spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Beijing claims that the Mandarin name of the Diaoyu Islands first appeared in writings in the early 15th century, proving that China had discovered and named the islands then.

Tokyo and Beijing's bitter and longstanding battle over ownership of the East China Sea chain was exacerbated when Japan nationalised some of the archipelago nearly two years ago.

Since then, the waters have seen increasingly dangerous standoffs in the sea and air around the contested territory.

Japan said Friday it would give Vietnam six vessels to boost the communist country's capacity to patrol its territorial waters, amid a bitter maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea.

The deal for the six used vessels, worth 500 million yen ($5 million), was announced in Hanoi during a two-day visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida aimed at deepening bilateral ties.

"We hope this will help strengthen the maritime law enforcement capability of Vietnam," Kishida said at a press briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh.

Relations between Vietnam and neighbouring China plummeted to their worst point in decades in early May after Beijing moved a deep-water oil drilling rig into waters in the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam.

China withdrew the rig mid-July, a month earlier than initially expected, claiming it had successfully completed the drilling mission.

While the rig was in place, there were repeated skirmishes between dozens of Chinese and Vietnamese vessels around the rig.

Hanoi accused Beijing of ramming and sinking one of its wooden fishing vessels. Beijing denied the allegation, blaming intrusions by Hanoi's fishing fleet for the incident.

The rig's deployment also triggered a wave of violent anti-China demonstrations and riots in Vietnam, which saw some foreign-invested factories vandalised and set on fire.

Japan and China are also locked in a bitter dispute over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Tokyo took control of the islands in January 1895, when it says they were unoccupied. Beijing counters they have always been its "inherent" territory.

"Both Vietnam and Japan agree on maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea and East Sea," Fumio said.

East Sea is the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.

He said disputes must be settled "in accordance with international law (and) by peaceful means".

Japan names islets in disputed territory
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 01, 2014 - Japan on Friday named almost 160 uninhabited islets at the edge of its territorial waters, including a group that is part of an archipelago also claimed by China.

The apparent bid to stake Tokyo's claim to the tiny territory may inflame tensions with Beijing which has been at loggerheads with Japan over the chain of islands in the East China Sea.

The group, believed to harbour vast natural resources below its seabed, is called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Five of the newly named outcroppings are part of the same island grouping.

Their bland monikers -- including Higashi Kojima (East Small Island) and Seihokusei Kojima (West Northwest Small Island) -- will appear on maps but the move will not change Japan's maritime borders.

Tokyo and Beijing's bitter and longstanding battle over ownership of the East China Sea chain was exacerbated when Japan nationalised some of the archipelago nearly two years ago.

Since then, the waters have seen increasingly dangerous standoffs in the sea and air around the contested territory.

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