Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned China over its territorial dipute with Japan on East China Sea islands.
Clinton’s remarks came at joint press conference on Friday following a meeting in Washington with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida amid indications that China is testing control over the uninhabited but gas-rich islands, AFP reported.
While Tokyo’s new conservative government has vowed not to aggravate developing tensions with China over the islands, Clinton insisted during the news conference that the area was under Japan’s control and thus protected under an American security treaty with Tokyo.
“We oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration," the outgoing US secretary of state declared during her joint press event with Kishida.
Although Clinton did not name Beijing directly in her pointed warning, she said, "We want to see China and Japan resolve this matter peacefully through dialogue.”
China has persistently censured the US position, dispatching naval surveillance ships to the reportedly gas-rich area, a move that experts view as a way to challenge Japan’s asserted control over the islands.
"We do not want to see any action taken by anyone that could raise tensions or result in miscalculation that would undermine the peace, security and economic growth in this region," Clinton further added.
This is while the US has insisted that it is neutral on the sovereignty of the islands -- known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese -- but that they are under the de facto control of Japan.
Kishida, according to the report, welcomed Clinton's expression of support, adding that the statement on the security treaty "will go against any unilateral action that would infringe upon the administration rights of Japan."
Meanwhile, US officials have mainly welcomed the return to power in Japan of the more conservative Liberal Democratic Party, believing that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stong positions and vows to bolster military spending will deter potential challenges by China.
Clinton also announced that Abe will pay an official visit to Washington in February.