China opposes Japan's illegal "island" claims

Xinhua News Agency


China on Friday said it does not recognize Japan's self-declared exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Okinotori Atoll.

An EEZ is an area of sea over which a state has exclusive rights of exploration.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was responding to reports regarding Japan's Thursday reiteration that it classed Okinotori as an island, not a collection of rocks.

It is illegal for Japan to claim areas around the Okinotori Atoll as its continental shelf or EEZ, Hua said.

Hua explained that Okinotori Atoll, some 1,700 km south of Tokyo, was a group of rocks in the western Pacific Ocean, and less than 10 square meters of the rocks are above sea level at high tide.

According to Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or an economic life cannot have EEZ or continental shelf status, Hua said.

Hua also reviewed that in 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf did not adopt Japanese claims over the geopolitical classification of Okinotori Atoll, and Japan's claim of its outer continental shelf based on Okinotori Atoll was not acknowledged by the commission. Enditem