U.S. voices displeasure over China Senkaku’s stance

The United States is criticizing China’s territorial claim around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, over which tensions between the two Asian nations remain elevated.

 “In September, 2012, China began using improperly drawn straight baseline claims around the Senkaku Islands,” the Defense Department says, “adding to its network of maritime claims inconsistent with international law.”   The baselines are drawn to define territorial waters. China has set the baseline around the Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, so that it can claim the islet chain is part of its territory.

China has submitted its claim to the United Nations without discussions with Japan. Tokyo says it cannot tolerate even the drawing of such a line around the islets.   In an annual report on military and security developments involving China, the department referred to Japan’s purchase of three out of the five Senkaku islands in September last year.

 “China protested the move and since that time has regularly sent maritime law enforcement ships –and, less often, aircraft– to patrol near the Senkakus to protect its claims; the report says this has included regular Chinese maritime operations within 12 nautical miles of the islands”.   The Defense Department also mentioned China’s increased reference in official materials, including passports, to the so-called nine-dash line used to claim that China’s maritime rights extend virtually to the entire South China Sea. The practice “is a source of concern to its neighbors,” the report said.

Predicting a rise in China’s patrol capability in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, the U.S. department said China’s State Oceanic Administration will boost its such capability by 50% by 2020 and the Chinese Agriculture Ministry’s Bureau of Fisheries by 25%.