News / Asia

China Rejects Obama’s Stance on Japan Island Dispute

FILE - A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (t), Minamikojima (b) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 2012.
FILE - A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (t), Minamikojima (b) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 2012.
William Ide
China is voicing strong opposition to President Obama's statement that disputed islands in the East China Sea fall under a mutual security treaty between Washington and Tokyo. Ahead of his arrival in Japan for security and economic talks, the president told a Japanese newspaper that Washington would come to Tokyo's defense if there is ever a conflict over the islands in the East China Sea, which China also claims as its own.
 
It was expected that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors would come up during U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Asia, particularly during his first stop in Japan. But the blunt words began even before Obama's plane touched down in Tokyo.
 
A major Japanese newspaper Wednesday published its transcript of an interview with the president where he gave what some analysts say is the clearest statement to date on the U.S. position regarding the disputed islands.
 
The islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, have long been administered by Japan and claimed by China.
 
Obama told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper that islands fall under the U.S.- Japan Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty and Washington opposes any “unilateral attempts to undermine Japan's administration of the islands.”
 
Commenting on the interview Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang took particular aim at the U.S.- Japan security treaty, calling it a bilateral agreement formed during the Cold War.
 
Qin said China is “firmly opposed to putting the islands under the U.S. Japan treaty.” Adding that the “U.S. should respect the facts and take a responsible attitude, be discreet in word and deed and play a constructive role in regional peace.”
 
The United States transferred administration of the islands to Japan in 1972, and Tokyo and Beijing have been locked in a dispute over them for years.  In 2012, when the Japanese government purchased the previously privately owned and uninhabited islands, tensions began to rise even more.
 
The U.S. has repeatedly said that it does not take sides in such regional territorial disputes.  In his interview, Obama has called for diplomacy and engagement, instead of intimidation and coercion to resolve maritime disputes. The fight over the islands has become increasingly bitter ever since Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped into office and Beijing frequently puts all of the blame on Tokyo.
 
China argues that the islands are part of its historic territory. Late last year, it abruptly and unilaterally announced the establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone that includes the islands.
 
Initial reaction to Obama's remarks was mixed.
 
Tomohiko Taniguchi, a professor at Keio University and special advisor to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Obama's statement was historically significant.  "It is the most reassuring statement that the nation has ever heard from the top leader of the biggest economy, the biggest military power in the world, so nothing could be more reassuring," he said.
 
In China, few saw the declaration as a shift in the overall U.S. position.

Wang Dong, a political scientist at Peking University says other U.S. officials have previously said the islands fall under this defense treaty, so the president’s remarks are not a shift in policy.
 
He said the remarks are unlikely to have any significant impact on the dispute and seemed more intended at reassuring U.S. allies in the region.  “I don't see this as something that is sort of a big surprise or a 180 degree shift in the U.S. position,” said Wang.
 
Chinese state media, however, warned that the remark runs the risk of violating Washington's often-stated position that it does not take sides in the dispute. One article by the China News Service said the U.S. should do more to promote peace and stability in the region, instead of sending contradictory and false signals.

VOA Correspondent Steve Herman also contributed to this report.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid