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China's Oil and Gas Exploration in the East China Sea Is Rightful and Legitimate

2015/07/24

On July 22, 2015, Japan made public China's oil and gas exploration activities in the East China Sea on its Foreign Ministry website, and requested China to stop the exploration in the waters on the Chinese side of the "geographical equidistance line" unilaterally claimed by Japan. Japan's request is groundless and China's relevant oil and gas exploration activities in the East China Sea are absolutely rightful and legitimate.

First, China's oil and gas exploration in the East China Sea is in undisputable waters under China's jurisdiction and completely falls within China's sovereign rights and jurisdiction, which is beyond reproach. China has started its oil and gas exploration in the above-mentioned waters since the 1970s, and Japan had never raised an objection for many years. But since 2004, Japan has gradually changed its practice and constantly criticized and hyped up China's rightful oil and gas exploration.

Second, China and Japan have not conducted maritime delimitation in the East China Sea and China does not recognize the "geographical equidistance line" unilaterally drawn by Japan and disagrees to Japan's so called maritime delimitation stance based on the "geographical equidistance line". China advocates the convention of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and its continental shelf in the East China Sea naturally extends to the Okinawa Trough. As to the maritime delimitation in the East China Sea between China and Japan, China is willing to reach an agreement to solve this issue on the basis of the international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in the principle of justice.

Third, China has for long borne in mind the general picture of bilateral relations and exercised restraint and never carried out oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters. China proposes to conduct joint exploration with Japan without affecting their respective legal stance.

Fourth, China and Japan have kept communication on the East China Sea issue for many years and both reached a principled consensus on the issue in June, 2008. However, Japan later distorted the consensus and started to raise obstacles in its implementation. Both countries held the first round of intergovernmental consultation for implementing the principled consensus in July, 2010, however, for the troubles stirred up by Japan in the East China Sea thereafter, the consultation has been suspended till now. It is hoped that Japan could return to and maintain the consensus as early as possible thus create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the two countries' resumption of the consultation.

Fifth, on the basis of respecting historical facts and in line with the international law, China will continuously conduct dialogue and communication with Japan on relevant issues concerning the East China Sea through channels including the high-level negotiation mechanisms in the maritime affairs, so as to enhance mutual trust, manage and control divergences and promote cooperation. This not only conduces to peace and stability in the East China Sea but also conforms to the common interests between the two countries and peoples.

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