US urges peace in dispute over Diaoyu Islands

Updated: 2012-09-12 15:41

By Tan Yingzi in Washington (China Daily)

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As China and Japan continue their feud over the territorial rights to the Diaoyu Islands, a senior official from the United States urged both parties on Tuesday to solve the problem peacefully.

Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and the Pacific Affairs, reiterated the US’ neutral stance on the escalating issue and said the nation wants “coolers heads to prevail”.

“We do not take position on any territory claims,” he said. “Frankly, we have enormous stakes in peace and stability (in the region). We ask countries to refrain their reactions to seek dialogue.”

The rocky islands, located in the East China Sea and known as Senkaku to the Japanese and Diaoyu to the Chinese, have been at the center of public feuds between the two countries. Recently Tokyo’s nationalist governor Shintaro Ishihara announced plans to “purchase” the islands and develop them, sparking anger from China. Japan’s central government has said it does not plan to develop the islands.

Earlier on Tuesday, against Beijing’s opposition, the Japanese government “purchased” three of the islands. Two China Marine Surveillance patrol ships then arrived at waters near the islands that same day to assert China’s sovereignty over the islands.

Campbell was bombarded with questions about the islands after a keynote speech on US’ engagement in the Pacific region at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

After making a brief statement, he refused to make any further comment on the issue. CSIS security experts also declined to comment.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland did not give any further response to the islands dispute on Tuesday but referred to her previous comments on Monday in which she said, “Our message to both sides is the same: We want to see this handled calmly. We want to see it handled through dialogue.”

“Good relations between (China and Japan) are important for each of them. They’re also important for the region and important for our interests,” Nuland said Monday.

Since April, the historically sensitive China-Japan ties have been strained over territorial claims of the Diaoyu Islands.

With the Obama administration’s pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region, Washington has actively engaged with China and other allies to ensure stability in the region.

While attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Russia last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Asian countries to cool tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea, according to the Associated Press.

“We can’t let anything happen. It’s not in the interest of any of the Asian countries, and it’s certainly not in the interests of the United States or the rest of the world to raise doubts and uncertainties about the stability and peace in the region,” she said.