China Navy officer rejects joint development agreement

March 07, 2012

By KENJI MINEMURA/ Correspondent

BEIJING--A high-ranking Chinese naval officer on March 6 rejected the 2008 Japan-China agreement to jointly develop the Shirakaba natural gas field as well as the countries’ "median line" in the East China Sea.

“The gas field is located in a sea area under the jurisdiction of China, so it is not subject to joint development,” Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo told reporters from The Asahi Shimbun and other media organizations.

The Chinese government has said its stance toward the 2008 agreement on the gas field, which is called Chunxiao in China, has not changed.

But negotiations between the two countries to conclude a treaty for joint development in the East China Sea have not been held since July 2010.

Some observers said the Chinese government cannot move forward on the issue because of strong opposition from the country’s military.

Yin, who is involved in territorial issues and the Navy’s strategic planning, is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body on national politics.

He said that he does not accept the median line regarded by Japan as the border between the exclusive economic zones of the two countries.

“(Even if I accept the median line,) the Chinese side of the median line is an undisputed sea area under the jurisdiction of China,” he said.

Yin argued that sea areas subject to the negotiations for joint development are located on the Japanese side of the median line, not the gas fields--including Shirakaba--on the Chinese side.

Before the 2008 agreement, China had already started development of the Shirakaba gas field on the Chinese side of the median line, drawing criticism from Japan. Under the 2008 agreement, Japan and China agreed that Japanese organizations would take part in the development by investing in the project.

Since then, the Japanese government has been asking Beijing to take measures to implement the agreement.

But Yin said: “Japanese officials in charge of the negotiations have mixed up the facts. After time passed, they have raised the issue again.”

By KENJI MINEMURA/ Correspondent
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China's development facility in the East China Sea in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

China's development facility in the East China Sea in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • China's development facility in the East China Sea in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
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