China defends self on fishing curbs


Posted at Jan 13 2014 07:50 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2014 03:50 AM

BEIJING - Beijing reacted sharply on Monday to criticism by Japan of new fishing restrictions imposed by China in the South China Sea, expressing "resolute dissatisfaction" with a Japanese official's comments at the weekend, and noting Japan has no direct stake in the issue.

"I'd like to recommend that this Japanese official, before making remarks, should first do some basic research and understand fully China's laws and regulations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

"We are willing to make joint efforts with the relevant parties to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, but as for Japan, who has no part in the South China Sea issue, we express our resolute dissatisfaction to it making these remarks. We also hope that the international community, as well as our media friends, will be able to recognize the true motives of the remarks made by that person on the Japanese side and stay on high alert," she added.

On Sunday (January 12), Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the fishing rules, approved by China's southern Hainan province and which came into effect on January 1, had left the international community jittery, coming so soon after China unilaterally launched an air defense identification zone late last year.

The new rules require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval to enter disputed waters in the South China Sea, which the local government says are under its jurisdiction.

Hua also said the fishing curbs were purely technical amendments to a 30-year-old fisheries law.

Beijing claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea and rejects rival claims to parts of it from the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

The United States last week called the fishing rules "provocative and potentially dangerous", prompting an earlier rebuttal from China's foreign ministry.

Ties between China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have been strained due to a long-running row over ownership of a group of tiny, uninhabited islands called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Tensions were ratcheted up in recent months after Beijing announced an air defense identification zone covering a large swathe of the East China Sea, including the disputed isles, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial Tokyo shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.