China objects to US offer over disputed islands
Tuesday, November 2, 2010; 2:43 AM
BEIJING -- China objected Tuesday to a U.S. offer to broker three-way talks with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea, saying it was "very wrong" for the United States to get involved in the territorial disagreement.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week made the offer to host talks among the three countries in a bid to help ease tensions between the two Asian powers after their relations sank to a five-year low.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement that the idea of holding trilateral talks was only proposed by the U.S. side and that the uninhabited islands - which are claimed by both China and Japan - remain an issue for those two countries alone to deal with.
Ma said that the U.S. position that the islands fall within the scope of a U.S.-Japan security treaty was "very wrong," demanding that Washington "correct its erroneous position."
Ma was apparently responding to remarks made by Clinton last week to Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara that the islands were covered by a U.S.-Japan security pact that obliges the U.S. to respond to attacks on Japanese territory.
Beijing has cautioned Clinton that the United States should act with discretion and make no "wrong remarks" on the sensitive issue of the islands.
The spat broke out after a Chinese fishing trawler collided in September with two Japanese patrol boats near the disputed islands in the East China Sea - called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The diplomatic row that followed has prompted street protests, canceled meetings and Chinese restrictions on key metal exports that drew international concern.
The U.S. has appealed for the two countries to resolve the matter peacefully. The United States has said that it holds no position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands.
Washington has voiced concern that territorial disputes on the high seas in Asia could imperil strategic international shipping lanes and signaled it would back regional allies, including Japan, if tensions were to escalate.