China has violated an agreement with Japan and continued developing a gas field in a disputed area in the East China Sea, a press report said Sunday.
The neighbours struck a deal in June last year to end a lingering spat over four Chinese undersea gas fields which, Japan claimed, extend or possibly extend into its exclusive economic zone.
Under the deal, Japan and China would jointly develop the gas fields. Japan agreed to invest in one of them while the two sides continue talks on the remaining three, freezing further development.
But Japan has complained that China has since begun exploring one of the disputed fields, named Tianwaitian, the Sankei daily paper reported, citing unspecified government sources.
“There is a strong possibility that China has completed drilling work and entered the stage of production” in the field, the daily said.
Japanese patrol planes spotted brown discoloration and fierce bubbling of water near a platform in the Tianwaitian field in July and later, the daily said.
The phenomena might be a sign of underwater drilling and related activities, the daily quoted the governmental Resouces and Energy Agency as saying.
Many long pipes were seen being removed from the platform in October after they had been there since June, indicating that they had been used in drilling, the Sankei said.
“The Chinese side has insisted on its own development of the fields and our fears that they might go ahead with unilateral development have become a reality,” a government official was quoted by the daily as saying.
China has many mineral rights and oil disagreements at sea with Japan, Vietnam and other nations — and a poweful navy means to these countries that China will, before long, lay down the law from Beijing on other regional neighbors.
According to Japan’s Navy Retired vice admiral Fumio Ota, currently director of the Center for Security and Crisis Management Education of the National Defense Academy, “One reason is China wants to make advances in the sea to secure energy resources. The other is to survey and expand the area of its operational waters in preparation for a war with Taiwan ….. China’s State Oceanic Administration has said: ‘The one who controls the sea will survive and grow. China will build a powerful and modern maritime state.’”