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Taiwan investigating reported China-Japan deal on disputed islands

ROC Central News Agency

2010/10/19 13:11:57

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday it was not aware of a reported "secret deal" between China and Japan on the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, but confirmed that it was gathering information on the matter.

The ministry has instructed its office in Japan to follow-up on the report that Japan had an agreement with China on the islets as early as 2004, said Huang Ming-lung, secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of Taiwan-Japan ties.

"We have not heard of the deal but we're now investigating and trying to gather information, " he said of the report, which appeared in the Japanese weekly magazine AERA, published by Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The Tiaoyutai Islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern tip in the East China Sea, are controlled by Japan and claimed by China and Taiwan. They are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and Senkaku Islands in Japan.

According to the magazine report, Japan and China agreed in principle following a conflict in 2004 that China should keep activists from sailing out to the islands and that Japan would not detain those who land on the islets.

But if the agreement between Japan and China does exist as reported, it was still not able to prevent a recent skirmish in the area.

Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat skipper after his trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels on Sept. 7. The incident led to a diplomatic row between the two countries, and the United States also became involved.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry took a long-term view of the Tiaoyutai dispute Tuesday.

"The Tiaoyutai issue is not an issue that can be solved immediately, but we believe that its impact on Taiwan-Japan relations will be limited. And I assure you that Taiwan will not cooperate with China on handling the issue, " Huang said in response to a reporter's question at a press briefing. (By Chris Wang) enditem/ls

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