Tue, October 16, 2012
World > Asia-Pacific > Japan in islands row

No. 2 US diplomat in Beijing today, as mediator or listener?

2012-10-16 02:36:02 GMT2012-10-16 10:36:02(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

By Mei Jingya, Sina English

The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Williams Burns is set to arrive in Beijing today for a two-day visit and exchange views with the Chinese side on Sino-US relations as well as regional affairs of mutual concern.

The No.2 U.S. diplomat is now on his five-country trip touring Asia, with Beijing his third leg after wrapping up his trip to Japan and South Korea.

Japanese media said Burns, in Japan yesterday, told Liberal Democratic Party (LD) leader Shinzo Abe not to escalate the East China Sea tension.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at Monday’s routine press briefing that Japan's attempt to seek support from other countries on the Diaoyu Islands spat with China is completely futile.

Hong Lei made the remarks in response to a question concerning Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba's visits to Britain, France and Germany this week. Hong pointed out that the United States pledged on many occasions not to take position on the territorial dispute between Japan and China. "We hope the U.S. can keep its promise, and put it to practice," he added.

Analysts say tense island disputes involving China, Japan and S.Korea is high on Burns' agenda.

However, it’s thus far indiscernible whether he is trying to act as a mediator to soothe the situation, as all the parties in the tug-of-war have yet to show any substantial step back, nor sign of bending a little.

By schedule, Burns arrived in Seoul on Monday after a trip to Tokyo to meet senior Korean officials and attend the 4th vice-ministerial strategic dialogue, scheduled Oct.16, between the two allies. He will leave Seoul for Beijing later with a portfolio of global, regional and bilateral issues to discuss with China.

This is the second Beijing visit made by senior U.S. officials within three months. In late July, Obama’s national security advisor, Thomas E. Donilon, came here and met with Chinese vice president Xi Jinpiing and Xu Caihou, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

7 Chinese navy vessels sail towards Diaoyus: Japanese media

Japan confirmed that 7 Chinese navy vessels is sailing towards the Diaoyu Islands, Fuji News Network reported Tuesday morning.

According to the Defense Ministry, seven Chinese ships were spotted sailing at around 6 a.m. (Beijing time) about 49 kilometers south-southeast of the Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and 200 kilometers south of the Diaoyu Islands, Kyodo news reported.

The ministry said the ships were two destroyers, at least one of which had missile capacity, two frigates, two submarine rescue ships and one supply ship.

If the vessels went in the adjacent waters of the disputed islands, it would be the first Chinese military action since Japan’s” nationalizing” the islands, FNN reported.

Abe talks tough on China over island dispute

Shinzo Abe, head of Japan’s main opposition the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)and former Prime Minister, voiced tough stance over the China-Japan Diaoyu dispute during his meeting with the U.S. deputy Secretary of State Williams Burns.

According to Japanese media reports, hawkish Abe held talks with the No.2 US diplomat at the LDP headquarters and asked him to “accurately” pass on a message to Chinese officials: Japan will not yield a single centimeter of its territory to China.

Abe was quoted by Jiji press as saying “there is no room for talk" with China, because no territorial dispute exists surrounding the islands.

Abe reportedly also expressed discontent with Washington’s stance on the spat, accusing it of keeping neutral while claiming at the same time the islands are covered by Japan-U.S. security treaty.


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