U.N. to consider validity of China's claim over disputed islands

Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:59pm EST
 
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations is planning to consider later this year the scientific validity of a claim by China that a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea are part of its territory, although Japan says the world body should not be involved.

Tensions over the uninhabited islands - located near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil-and-gas reserves - flared after Japan's government purchased them from a private Japanese owner in September, sparking violent anti-Japanese protests across China and a military standoff.

Taiwan also claims the islands, known as the Diaoyu islands in China, the Senkaku islands in Japan and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

In a submission to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, China claims that the continental shelf in the East China Sea is a natural prolongation of China's land territory and that it includes the disputed islands.

Under the U.N. convention, a country can extend its 200-nautical-mile economic zone if it can prove that the continental shelf is a natural extension of its land mass. The U.N. commission assesses the scientific validity of claims, but any disputes have to be resolved between states, not by the commission.

China said the "Diaoyu Dao upfold zone" - the islands - is located between the East China Sea shelf basin and the Okinawa Trough. "The Okinawa Trough is the natural termination of the continental shelf of (the East China Sea)," it said.

China also told the commission that it was still negotiating with other states on the delimitation of the continental shelf.

"Recommendations of the commission with regard to the submission will not prejudice future delimitation of the continental shelf between China and the states concerned," said the executive summary of China's submission published on the commission's website.   Continued...

 
A handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 shows the disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, December 13, 2012. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/State Oceanic Administration of People's Republic of China/Handout