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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Remarks on the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf's Result of Handling the Okinotori Reef Issue

2012-05-16

Q: Recently, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf released the result of handling Japan's claim of outer continental shelf involving the Okinotori Reef issue. Prior to that, Japanese media once quoted information released by Japanese Foreign Ministry that the Commission had recognized Japan's 310,000 square km-claim of outer continental shelf, including the Shikoku basin to the north of the "Okinotori Island", and the "Okinotori Island" believed by China as "reef" had been listed as one of the base points to claim continental shelf, which showed it had been recognized as an "island". How does China comment?

A: According to information released by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the Commission has adopted the result of handling Japan's claim of outer continental shelf. Japan's claim of its outer continental shelf based on Okinotori Reef was not acknowledged by the Commission. It is completely baseless that Japan alleged that the Okinotori Reef had been recognized by the Commission as an "island".

Actually, only 310,000 square km out of the 740,000 square km-claim of Japan submitted to the Commission is recognized by the Commission. The unrecognized claim includes the around 250,000 square km southern Kyushu-Palau ridge based on the Okinotori Reef.

The Japanese side mentioned that the Shikoku basin to the north of the Okinotori Reef had been recognized by the Commission. However, the area, in fact, is based on other parts of Japan's land territory, completely irrelevant to the Okinotori Reef.

After Japan submitted its claim to the Commission, China and the ROK have delivered multiple notes to the UN Secretary-General, stressing that in light of international law, the Okinotori Reef which cannot sustain human habitation shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf and requesting the Commission not to recognize Japan's claim of outer continental shelf based on the Okinotori Reef. Many other countries have also voiced disagreements over Japan's illegitimate claim. The Commission's handling of Japan's claim including the Okinotori Reef issue is fair and reasonable, in compliance with international law, and has safeguarded the overall interest of the international community. China welcomes that decision.

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