US told to be careful in Diaoyu dispute
Ambassador warns Washington not to 'drop rock on its own feet'
Responding to remarks by the US defense secretary about the Diaoyu Islands earlier this week, China's ambassador to the US warned Washington not to "lift the rock off Japan only to let it drop on its own feet".
Cui Tiankai's remarks on Tuesday came one day after Russia blasted Japan's hawkish stance on territorial issues while Shinzo Abe was on a state visit to Moscow, the first by a Japanese prime minister to Russia in a decade.
Chinese analysts said the ambassador's remarks serve as a reminder to Washington and Tokyo that although China and Japan have achieved a subtle balance in their confrontation over the Diaoyu Islands, a crisis can easily be triggered.
At a news briefing at the Pentagon on Monday with visiting Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the two discussed tensions around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
"In our discussion today, I reiterated the principles that govern long-standing US policy on the Senkaku Islands," Hagel said, using Japan's name for the islands.
"The United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, but we do recognize they are under the administration of Japan and fall under our security treaty obligations.
"The United States opposes any unilateral or coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan's administrative control, a message General (Martin) Dempsey conveyed to his counterparts last week in Beijing," he said, referring to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Cui, who recently assumed the post of ambassador in Washington, said in an interview with Washington-based Chinese media that "it is the Japanese side that has triggered and escalated tensions on the Diaoyu Islands, and it's also Japan that undertook unilateral or coercive action."
Ties between Beijing and Tokyo have become strained since the Japanese government illegally "nationalized" the Diaoyu Islands in September.
Cui added that what Hagel told reporters about the conversation Dempsey had in Beijing did not match the facts.
"The Chinese side . . . unequivocally stated its stance. The US side should have been debriefed about the meetings and known the real situation," Cui said.