The official Chinese Daily Newspaper reported Thursday that Jia Qinglin, a high-level Chinese official, has called Japan to engage in talks about the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Jia, who is retiring in March, is the head of China’s top political advisory board and is the highest ranking Chinese official to publicly take such a position.
Jia made the call in a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday with former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who is reported to have agreed with Jia on the need for negotiations. Hatoyama has been an advocate of developing closer ties with China but has recently fallen out of favor with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. When asked about the news, Japanese Chief Cabinet spokesperson Yoshihide Suga has expressed dismay that a former premier of the country would make such a remark, which doesn’t represent the position of the government. The stance of the current Japanese government is that Japan holds sovereignty over the islands and there is therefore nothing to talk about.
However, the tension has risen to such a degree that both countries have scrambled to deploy patrol ships and fighter planes to discourage unlawful excursions into what both claim to be their territory. Although no shots have been fired, the already fragile situation is open to accidents and miscalculations. Outspoken Chinese generals have already warned that any increased action from Japan, such as firing warning shots at Chinese aircraft, would be considered acts of war.[ via AP ]