Tokyo to discuss South China Sea ruling with Beijing

Tokyo, July 13 (IANS) Japan will send its Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama to China next week to discuss improving bilateral ties and the recent ruling of an international tribunal in The Hague against Chinese claims on the South China Sea, a media report said on Wednesday.

Sugiyama is expected to arrive next Monday in Beijing, where he will meet Executive Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and other officials of the Chinese government, EFE news reported.

Sugiyama’s visit is an effort to improve bilateral relations and is also expected to include discussions about the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague’s ruling on Tuesday in a case brought by the Philippines, which saw it reject China’s claims to parts of the South China Sea.

The judgement concluded that all elements of the Spratly Islands, whose sovereignty are claimed by China, the Philippines and other neighbouring countries, “are legally rocks that do not generate an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”

Tokyo was quick to support the court’s decision and “expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea”.

Japan also has another territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku islands — a group of uninhabited small islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea.

An increase in Chinese military activities in the area, including recent naval operations near the Senkakus, has been reported.

Despite the existing tension, Sugiyama intends to lay the groundwork for talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, within the framework of the G20 summit, to be held in September in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Abe and Xi have met only twice during their mandates thanks to the worsening of bilateral ties caused by the dispute over the Senkaku islands — known in China as “Diaoyu” — in 2012.

–IANS

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