June 13, 2017

Tokyo, Beijing agree to resume high-level maritime talks



June 13, 2017 at 16:15 JST

Joint resource development in the East China Sea and setting up a hotline to avoid unintended clashes will be on the table at senior-level maritime talks between Japan and China to be held as early as late June, according to government sources.

It is expected that the officials will discuss establishing a Japan-China air-maritime communication mechanism, a so-called hotline between their defense authorities, as a conflict prevention measure, according to government sources.

It is also likely the officials will discuss the resumption of the much-delayed negotiations over concluding a treaty for a joint development project of gas fields in the East China Sea.

The maritime talks, which were first held in May 2012, were meant to be conducted regularly until relations between the nations soured over the disputed Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls and China claims. They were resumed in 2014.

The upcoming meeting will be the first since the one held in China in December.

As Chinese government vessels continue to intrude into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, the Japanese government hopes to discuss setting up hotlines between the Chinese military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces to prevent a chance encounter at sea or in the air.

The defense officials from the two nations agreed on the importance of open communications at a meeting held on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit (Shangri-La Dialogue), sponsored by the global think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore, at the beginning of June.

According to a report by China's Global Times newspaper, an affiliate of the Communist Party’s organ People's Daily, a Chinese official said they are “placing great importance on discussing setting up the hotline for both maritime and air forces (of the two nations), and are hoping their Japanese counterparts will show a flexible attitude.”

The Japanese and Chinese governments are currently negotiating a meeting of their leaders on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 major countries, scheduled in Hamburg, Germany, from July 7-8. It is believed that building trust between defense authorities will be one of the topics at the proposed summit between Japan and China

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