04:07 GMT +308 December 2019
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    A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea (File)

    China, Japan Hold Talks to Avoid Accidental East China Sea Clashes

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    On Thursday, China and Japan began a two-day consultation of senior officials, where they will discuss ways to avoid accidental clashes in the East China Sea and other maritime issues.

    The meetings are being held in Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture, and the two countries hope to decide whether they can implement the "Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism"earlier than expected, as this would act as an open line between defense officials to maintain peaceful coexistence in the region. 

    Previous talks have failed between the two nations, as China disputes Japan’s sovereignty over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which China refers to as Diaoyu. Tokyo placing the Senkakus under state control in 2012 has led to diplomatic issues. Japan paid the family who previously owned the islets 2.05 billion yen.

    The islands are valuable both for their proximity to resources and their strategic location near potential oil and gas reserves, rich fishing grounds and important shipping routes.

    Japan is looking to ease some of the controversy surrounding the East China Sea, and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to meet in early July on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Germany.

    Senior officials from coast guard organizations, and foreign and defense ministries will also discuss a joint project focused on developing the sea’s oil field in the latest talks, according to the Japan Times.

    Japan and China first held talks on maritime issues in 2012, but territorial disputes led to talks being suspended in 2014. There are now semi-annual high-level discussions.

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    Tags:
    bilateral talks, territorial dispute, Shinzo Abe, Xi Jinping, East China Sea, Senkaku Islands, Japan, China
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