Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in Beijing on Wednesday that Japan's granting of rights to explore for gas and oil in the East China Sea is a serious provocation.
Qin said China has already lodged a protest to Japan and retains the right to take further action.
Earlier that day, the Japanese government initiated procedures to award Japanese firms the right to conduct test drilling for potential gas and oil fields to the east of a unilaterally defined demarcation line.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry asked authorities to review applications from companies that want to explore the fields, the Kyodo News Service reported yesterday.
Qin said the move aggravates the rights of China and the norms of international relations.
He said there are disputes between China and Japan on demarcation of the continental shelf in the East China Sea, and that China has always insisted that they resolve the issue through diplomatic negotiation.
But, Qin said, the Japanese side has turned a deaf ear and is attempting to impose a one-sided demarcation line that has not been agreed upon by China.
"China has never ever recognized and will never recognize this," said Qin.
(Xinhua News Agency April 14, 2005)