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China asserts claims to disputed islands

Nov. 7, 2012 at 6:11 AM

BEIJING, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- China Wednesday reasserted its sovereignty claims over a group of East China Sea islands while reacting to reports about jointly managing them with Japan.

The uninhabited islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have long been an issue between the countries but tensions escalated when Japan brought the islands under its control in September.

The underlying issue isn't the small land masses but the rights to natural resources, believed to be extensive, in waters near to islands.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China opposes Japan's so-called "actual control" of the Diaoyu Islands and the waters surrounding them, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Hong said the islands and their affiliated islets have been part of China's inherent territory since ancient times and China holds indisputable sovereignty over them.

"China has repeated its position regarding the Diaoyu Islands during all consultations with Japan on the issue and stressed its strong opposition to any acts that could undermine China's territorial sovereignty," Hong said, adding his government will continue to firmly safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Xinhua reported.

Earlier this week, the South China Morning Post quoted the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell as telling a seminar in Washington that Japan and China should "step back from the brink," adding their territorial dispute can only be managed but not resolved because of the complexities involved.

Japan's Kyodo News reported that senior Japanese and Chinese Foreign Ministry officials had agreed in their talks through Monday to continue dialogue over the dispute.

Quoting the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Kyodo said in their meeting on Sunday and Monday in China, the officials confirmed that the two sides would continue to communicate and made arrangements for the next round of vice-ministerial talks.

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