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China-Japan Talks on Sea Boundary Dispute End Without Sign of Progress


The latest round of talks between China and Japan over disputed territory in the East China Sea has ended with no sign of progress. The two are seeking an arrangement that will allow for joint exploitation of energy supplies in the region.

Japan was hoping for a positive response from China on its proposal in the last round of talks for joint exploration of rich energy resources in the disputed territory.

However, a Japanese official in Beijing said the Chinese instead put forward a counter-proposal, which Japan would have to study. Neither side offered details of that proposal.

This was the fourth round of talks between the two countries on the East China Sea, which lies between Shanghai and the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

After the two days of talks ended Tuesday, the chief Japanese delegate, Kenichiro Sasae, expressed delicately phrased reservations about Chinese intentions.

"Through the meeting, I felt the Chinese side had an incentive to move this issue forward through concerted effort," he said. "However, I think that it is a different matter whether this attitude is incorporated in the content. We need to measure that on merit."

The boundary disagreement has been going on for years, but heated up when China unilaterally began undersea drilling for gas near the disputed area in 2003.

The two energy hungry countries say they want to work together to extract oil and gas from the seabed, but disagree over where the boundary between the two lies, and how much territory should be jointly exploited.

They have agreed to meet for another round of negotiations in Tokyo, but have not yet picked a date.