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Chinese foreign minister proposes only allowing Chinese, Japanese official vessels near Diaoyu Islands

Wang Yi suggests territorial dispute with Japan will subside if only official boats allowed around Diaoyu Islands

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In order to ease tensions between China and Japan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) proposed on Wednesday (Nov. 25) that the two governments should take measures to prevent boats other than official vessels from entering the surrounding waters of the Diaoyu Islands.

Wang, who is currently visiting Japan, stated in an interview with reporters that China promises it will prohibit any boats aside from government vessels from approaching the islands, and it hopes that the Japanese side will do the same. The Chinese foreign minister said he believed that if both parties avoid the area, the territorial dispute will subside and eventually disappear, Kyodo News reported.

Taiwan, Japan, and China all claim sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, with Beijing legitimizing its claims through its assertion that Taiwan is a part of China. Chinese Coast Guard ships have been intimidating Japanese fishing boats into avoiding the islands in recent years.

On June 22, Japan's Ishigaki City Council passed the proposal to change the administrative designation of the Diaoyu Islands from Tonoshiro to Tonoshiro Senkaku despite a torrent of protests from Taiwan and China. The initiative was aimed to streamline the administrative divisions since the name Tonoshiro was used both for the Diaoyu Islands and certain regions on Ishigaki Island.

In response, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated that the Diaoyu Islands are a part of Taiwanese territory during a press conference on June 24, saying that the government will do its best to protect the country’s sovereignty over the islands.

She pointed out that Taiwanese fishermen have been able to operate in waters around the Diaoyu Islands without any obstruction from Japan in the past few years.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret and lodged a strong protest with Japan after the name change for the disputed Diaoyu Islands went into effect Oct. 1. Taiwan has sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, and no unilateral statement or action can change that fact, the ministry said in a statement.