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Japan Holds Maritime Talks With China, Takes “Interest” In Chinese Drills In Taiwan Waters

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Amid China’s manoeuvres in Taiwan waters, discussions related to maritime issues around the disputed East China Sea took place between the officials of China and Japan on Monday.

The meeting, part of consistent talks since 2012, was done at a time when Chinese defence fleet-warplanes and ships- simulated attacks against Taiwan post Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in United States.

Before the talks were held, leader of the Chinese delegation, Hong Liang, expressed intent in receiving cooperation from Japan in maritime matters along with an expectation of “in-depth conversation” with the country’s officials.

Hong Liang, an official in the Chinese foreign ministry, is director-general of boundary and ocean affairs. Japan’s official contingent is helmed by Takehiro Funakoshi who is the director-general of Asian and Oceanian Affairs. In the last meeting between the two countries in November, Liang condemned Japan for making unwanted remarks about China’s acts in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the country with China.  At the time, Liang also asked Japan to retrieve its ships from the seas close to the around islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

The two countries regularly fight each other, their coast guard ships, in the seas surrounding Japanese-controlled islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku and in China as the Diaoyu. In March, China and Japan build a military hotline to help prevent any air and sea incidents in the contested waters.

China’s maritime exercise around Taiwan

On Monday, the last day of scheduled exercises, the Chinese military conducted maritime and aerial blockade manoeuvres around Taiwan. An aircraft carrier from China participated in combat patrols, and Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, reported an increase in the number of aircraft flying close to the island.

After Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen’s return to Taipei after a meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles, China announced the three days of drills on Saturday.

According to Chinese state television, warships and planes staged drills to “form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation,” including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with real missiles.

According to the report, “In the Taiwan Strait, the northwest and southwest of Taiwan and the waters east of Taiwan (Chinese forces) took the initiative to attack, giving full play to their performance advantages, flexibly manoeuvring to seize favourable positions, and advancing at high speed to deter opponents.”

The aircraft carrier Shandong reportedly took part in combat patrols, according to the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, which also provided footage of jets taking off from her deck.

Taiwan has been monitoring the Shandong’s progress in the Pacific Ocean since last week.

Four carrier-based Chinese J-15 fighters were seen flying over the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan’s east on a map of the Chinese air force’s actions from the previous day that was released by Taiwan’s defence ministry on Monday.

Japan’s “interest” in Chinese activities

According to Japan government’s spokesperson on Monday, the country has been observing China’s military exercises around Taiwan “with great interest”. The close proximity of Japanese islands with Taiwan has concerned the former country in context of China’s military drills in the area

“The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not only important for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the international community as a whole,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

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