Japan confirms China has been pumping oil or gas in East China Sea

Sep 20, 2005 02:00 AM

Japan has confirmed China has been pumping either oil or natural gas near disputed waters in the East China Sea, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said.
Nakagawa said a "flare" has been confirmed in the Tianwaitian field developed by a Chinese consortium.

The METI chief suggested the government may lodge a protest against Beijing over the matter.
"Even though we have not confirmed that the underground structure of the field extends into waters claimed by Japan, Tokyo sees the resource development there as a problem. The government has been considering a countermeasure," Nakagawa said.

The Tianwaitian field is located just a few kilometres away from what Japan claims as the median line that separates the two countries' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea. China does not recognize the median line and insists that its EEZ stretches further to the edge of the continental shelf.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force released a photograph of the flare at the gas field which was taken from its P3-C surveillance plane.

Tokyo is concerned that the Chinese consortium might siphon off resources that could be buried under the seabed on the Japanese side of the sea.
A geophysical survey conducted by Tokyo has found that underground structures in the Chunxiao gas field, located next to the Tianwaitian field, extend into waters east of the median line, but it stopped short of confirming a structural connection to the Tianwaitian.

China did not confirm whether production has begun at the field, saying only that it hopes to resolve the issue through talks with Japan.
"The Chinese gas field development is being carried out in Chinese waters not disputed by Japan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told. "We have not changed our position that we hope to appropriately deal with the dispute through continued talks with Japan," he said.

The two countries held rounds of talks in Beijing in October last year and May this year to solvethe dispute through such means as joint development, but they failed to reach a breakthrough. Japan hopes to hold a third round of talks in Tokyo by the end of the month.
Nakagawa expressed hope that the gas talks will resume soon as both Chinese and Japanese officials in charge, who were engaged in the just-concluded six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear dispute in Beijing, will be ready for the meeting. When asked about the next round of bilateral talks, China's Qin said its scheduling still requires consultations.

Source: Kyodo News
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