China and Japan agreed on Tuesday to continue communications on issues over the East China Sea. The two countries are locked in a maritime dispute over the waters, and both claim the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyus in China.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Tokyo and met with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi. “Through the joint effort by both sides, we would like to make the East China Sea the sea of peace, friendship and cooperation,” Wang said.
Wang noted that the two countries are planning to hold working-level talks on maritime issues next month. In 2018, Japan and China implemented a maritime and air communication mechanism to avoid accidents in the disputed waters. A Japanese foreign ministry official confirmed that the two countries are making progress in setting up a military hotline that was part of the agreement but has not yet been implemented.
The Senkakus are currently administered by Japan. Chinese coast guard vessels recently entered waters near the islands, drawing sharp condemnation from Tokyo. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan, where they are known as the Tiaoyutais.
In a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier this month, Joe Biden assured that the Senkakus were covered in the US and Japan’s mutual defense treaty. Meaning, the US would come to defend the islands if they were under attack. During joint US-Japanese naval drills in October, the head of US forces in Japan said troops could quickly be deployed to defend the Senkakus.