China Power

China, Japan Eye Maritime Talks

Will plans for maritime talks between top Chinese and Japanese officials help avoid spats over the Senkaku Islands?

This will be encouraging if it works out. Japan's Kyodo news agency reported yesterday that China and Japan are considering holding a vice ministerial-level meeting later this month to discuss ways of avoiding a repeat of the incident last September in which a Chinese fishing vessel collided with two Japan Coast Guard ships off the Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese).

The incident saw tensions escalate significantly after Japan detained the captain of the Chinese vessel, with China threatening unspecified responses if Japan didn't release him (which it eventually did).

According to Kyodo:

'Along with maritime safety measures, especially around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the two sides are likely to discuss Japan's new defense policy outline, stalled bilateral talks concerning a treaty on joint gas field drilling in the East China Sea, and tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to the sources.'

As far as the Senkaku Islands are concerned, it will be interesting to see exactly how much can really be achieved as both sides claim full ownership. As long as they both do, there's no real middle ground for compromise.

Still, talking is, as I've said before, far better than not.