BEIJING (Reuters) - China reserves the right to a “necessary reaction” after Japan issued a defense review that called on Beijing to stop building oil and gas exploration platforms close to disputed waters in the East China Sea, the Defense Ministry has said.
In the paper issued on Tuesday, Tokyo expressed concern that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japan’s waters.
“This kind of action completely lays bare the two-faced nature of Japan’s foreign policy and has a detrimental impact on peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.
China would further evaluate Japan’s defense review, or white paper, when the full text is issued and would then make a “necessary reaction depending on the situation”, it said.
In an escalation of the spat, Japan released aerial photos of China’s construction activities in the area, accusing Beijing of unilateral development and a halfhearted attitude toward a 2008 agreement to jointly develop resources there.
“China’s development activities in the East China Sea have shown no signs of ceasing. Given rising concerns within and outside of Japan over China’s various attempts to change the status quo, we have decided to release what can be released in an appropriate manner,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.
China has built 12 structures since June 2013 when its construction activities picked up pace, Suga added.
But Suga said the dispute would have no impact on Sino-Japanese ties, which have thawed a little since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Chinese President Xi Jinping last November.
Speculation has been growing that the two leaders might meet again as early as September after a chat in Jakarta in April.
Beijing described Japan’s annual defense review as misleading and malicious, saying it overplayed the “China military threat” and stoked tensions between the two East Asian powers. It stuck by its claims over the disputed island chain.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the review ignored that China’s maritime activities were carried out in line with international law, according to a statement posted late on Tuesday.
“The Diaoyu islands have belonged to China since ancient times ... China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and Japan should not hold any unrealistic illusions,” he said, referring to the disputed chain of islets, also known in Japanese as the Senkaku.
Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI, Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING, Linda Sieg, Tetsushi Kajimoto and Chang-Ran Kim in TOKYO; Editing by Paul Tait and Jeremy Laurence