Washington [US], February 26 (ANI): Extending support to Japan, the US Defense Department on Tuesday slammed Beijing's assertive moves near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea which are controlled by the Japanese but claimed by the Chinese.
"We would urge the Chinese to avoid actions, using their coast guard vessels, that could lead to miscalculation and potential physical...harm," Kyodo News quoted the department's press secretary John Kirby as saying.
The administration of US President Joe Biden, like past administrations, has offered reassurances to Japan that Article 5 of the bilateral security treaty covers the Senkakus, meaning the United States would defend Japan in the event of a conflict there, Kyodo News reported.
On Wednesday, China immediately reacted to Kirby's comments, arguing that the islands in the East China Sea are part of the nation's "inherent territory.""The US-Japan security treaty is a product of the Cold War and it should not harm the interests of third parties and endanger regional peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, referring to the islets as Diaoyu.
Meanwhile, the United States has taken a neutral position regarding the sovereignty claims.
Kirby's remarks appeared to back Japan's sovereignty over the islands, another Defense Department spokesperson later clarified that "there is no change in US policy," Kyodo News reported.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi welcomed the press secretary's comments, saying they were in line with the two countries' shared concerns over Beijing's unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea.
"It is extremely deplorable and totally unacceptable that Chinese coast guard ships are entering Japan's territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands repeatedly and making moves to approach Japanese fishing vessels," Motegi said.
Last week, the US State Department said that the United States joins Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in expressing "concern" over a new Chinese coast guard law, saying it may "escalate ongoing territorial and maritime disputes" in the East and South China seas.
Implemented on February 1, the law explicitly allows the Chinese coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships it sees as illegally entering China's waters. Chinese coast guard vessels have been spotted near the uninhabited islets since the law took effect, Kyodo News reported. (ANI)