BEIJING: A wary China today firmly opposed comments by US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about Diaoyu islands and warned Tokyo to refrain from seeking American support for its illegal territorial claims under the mutual defence treaty.
"China is gravely concerned about and firmly opposed to relevant comments by Japan and the US. Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media briefing here. China calls the uninhabited Senkaku islands in the East China Sea held by Japan as Diaoyu islands.
While the islands and waters, believed to contain rich deposits of oil and minerals are in the administrative control of Japan, China has stepped up naval patrols around it after jostling with Japanese coast guard. "We are firmly against Japan's attempt to try to gain the US support for its illegal territorial claims in the name of the so-called mutual defense treaty," Geng said.
During the current visit of Abe to Washington, President Trump agreed to further strengthen security ties and confirmed that US forces will continue to be committed to defending the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, Japanese media said.
Expressing strong reservations over US extending the umbrella of its security treaty with Japan to the disputed islands, Geng said, "no rhetoric or actions, from whomsoever, will change the fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China or waver China's resolve and determination to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
He said Japan and the US should exercise prudence and stop making wrong remarks so as not to complicate relevant issues or bring negative impact on regional peace and stability. This is not the first time US is extending such a support. China reacted the same way when US assured such a backing to Japan under previous Barack Obama administration.
At a joint press conference yesterday with Abe, Trump described Japan as being "an important and steadfast ally" and affirmed continued US commitment to defending the Senkakus. "We are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control," the US President said.
Abe supplemented Trump's remarks by articulating that they "have confirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty will be applied to the Senkaku Islands," the Japan News reported. The confirmation was also stipulated in a joint statement issued after the meeting, which added, "[Both nations] oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands." Geng also asserted China's sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea (SCS), saying that its construction of the artificial islands are within its rights.