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China vows to defend islands

By QIN ZHONGWEI and ZHANG YUNBI  (China Daily)

07:56, August 31, 2012

China and its armed forces have the "confidence, capability" and unwavering determination to defend the Diaoyu Islands, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

A think-tank member visiting Beijing also warned that the frequent defense collaboration of the US-Japan alliance has strained the atmosphere of the Asia-Pacific region, and the weakened strategic mutual trust of the US-Japan-China trilateral ties is in "desperate need" of crisis management.

Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a monthly news conference that the Chinese military is closely watching Japan's moves. "We are against any words or deeds that would escalate or complicate the situation," he said.

While commenting on a recent US-Japan joint island drill in the western Pacific Ocean that reportedly "targets China", Geng said Beijing firmly opposes any deeds that may increase tension in the region.

Safeguarding the security, peace, and prosperity in the region is in everyone's interests, Geng said.

Cai Yingting, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, also reiterated China's stance over the Diaoyu Islands during his recent visit to the US.

During a Wednesday news briefing, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked whether the US supports Japan's rival territorial claim over the Diaoyu Islands, which belong to China.

Nuland said that the US does not have a position on the sovereignty of the islands, yet she reiterated that the US see the islands "falling under the scope" of Article 5 of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a defense pact that promises Washington's needed support to help Japan protect its "territory".

Geng also confirmed that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will visit China in mid-September, but did not provide the exact date.

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