Buoys placed near disputed islands for science: China
BEIJING (AP) - Chinese buoys placed near islands claimed by Beijing but controlled by Japan are intended to monitor ocean conditions and should not be "played up," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday following questions from Tokyo.
Japan had asked China to explain the purpose of the buoys, which were placed just outside Japanese waters near uninhabited East China Sea islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. Some in Japan had speculated that the buoys were intended to detect the movement of submarines.
Speaking at a regularly scheduled news conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said they were set there by Chinese authorities to carry out "maritime weather observations." "I think it does not deserve to be disputed or played up," she added.
The long-standing dispute between China and Japan over the islands flared anew after Japan purchased three of the five in the group from their private owners in September. Beijing says the islands have been Chinese for centuries, but Japan refuses to acknowledge counterclaims.