Chinese, Japanese officials meet amid East China Sea islands dispute
BEIJING (AP) – Japanese coastguard ships fired water cannon to push back Taiwanese vessels Tuesday in the latest confrontation over tiny islands in the East China Sea, as the main contenders, China and Japan, met in an effort to tamp down tensions.
About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol boats entered waters near the islands on Tuesday morning, briefly triggering an exchange of water cannon fire with Japanese coastguard ships who said the Taiwanese vessels ignored warnings to get out of their territory.
It was the first foray by Taiwan into the waters around the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, since the Japanese government purchased some of them from private owners two weeks ago. China, Japan and Taiwan all claim the islands, but they are administered by Tokyo.
The purchase has sparked sometimes violent protests in China and informal boycotts of Japanese products. Many Chinese have cancelled vacations to Japan over the dispute. Japanese airline JAL says it plans to cut six flights a day from Japan to Beijing and Shanghai from Oct 10 to Oct 27 after the cancelling of 15,500 seat reservations.
China has also dispatched government marine monitoring vessels to patrol around the Japan-administered islands.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai, flanked by their aides, held a meeting on the dispute on Tuesday at China’s Foreign Ministry.
After the four-hour meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said both sides exchanged views “frankly and deeply,” and he reiterated that “China will never tolerate Japan’s unilateral acts which violate China’s territorial sovereignty.”