Hillary Clinton tells China to steer clear of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has sent a clear warning to Beijing, which lays claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, saying Washington opposes any unilateral action that would weaken Japan’s control of the chain.
In a joint new conference Friday after meeting with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the State Department, Clinton also said the United States has invited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Washington for talks with President Barack Obama in the third week of February.
The new Liberal Democratic Party administration had sought to arrange a bilateral summit with Obama in January but gave up on the idea, in part due to the president’s tight schedule because of inaugural events for his second term.
“Although the U.S. does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the (Senkaku) islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan,” Clinton said, repeating Washington is obligated under the bilateral security treaty to defend the islet group if it comes under armed attack. “We oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration (of the Senkakus).”
It is the first time Clinton has clearly stated Washington’s opposition to altering the status quo regarding the isles, whose sovereignty is contested by both China and Taiwan. Japan purchased three of the main islets in September, effectively nationalizing the chain and enraging China.
The strong message from Washington came as Chinese planes and vessels continue to violate Japan’s airspace and waters around the uninhabited islets.