China asks Japan to release crew of detained fishing boat

The Sino-Japan ties appear to have hit a new low following the collision of a Chinese fishing vessel with two Japanese patrol ships in a disputed area in the East China Sea.

Beijing: The Sino-Japan ties appear to have
hit a new low following the collision of a Chinese fishing
vessel with two Japanese patrol ships in a disputed area in
the East China Sea, with Beijing today asking Tokyo to release
the detained crew of the boat to avoid further escalation of
tensions.

Terming the claims of Japan over the disputed Diaoyu
islands in the East China Sea as illegal and invalid, Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a media briefing
here that territorial issues could be highly sensitive and the
incident, which occurred two days back, could hurt the
bilateral relations.

She said China has rushed a "fisheries reinforcement"
vessel to the area to safeguard fishermen`s lives and assets,
but did not provide any additional details.

According to media reports, the captain and the 14 other
members of crew of the Chinese boat were detained by the
Japanese Coast Guard after it collided with two Japanese
vessels patrolling the waters.

China claims that the fishing vessel was intercepted by
the Japanese officials.

"China will never accept the Japanese side`s applying
domestic law to the Chinese fishing boat operating in that
area," Jiang said, terming the Japanese handling of the case
as "absurd, illegal and invalid."

"We hope that the Japanese side thoroughly considers the
seriousness and graveness of this incident, and release the
crew and vessel immediately so as to avoid further
deterioration of the situation and escalation (of tensions),"
she said.

Jiang urged the Japanese side to "keep a sober mind" on
the highly sensitive issue of the territorial dispute.

"If not handled properly, (the issue) will seriously
undermine the general situation of China-Japan relations," she
said.

Apparently taken aback by the sternness with which Japan
detained the crew, China summoned the Japanese Ambassador here
during the last two days and lodged its protest.

The Chinese Ambassador in Tokyo also met the Japanese
officials and conveyed China`s concerns.

The Diaoyu islands are situated 120 nautical miles
northeast of Taiwan, 200 nautical miles west of China`s
mainland and 200 nautical miles east of Japan`s southernmost
island Okinawa.

China, Japan and Taiwan claim territorial rights over the
uninhabited islands.

PTI

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