Japan on Wednesday underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, one of the most heavily policed strips of water in the world.
In a meeting attended by his peers from ASEAN and other countries such as China and the United States, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan expects the issue of the Taiwan strait to be resolved peacefully through direct dialogue between the parties concerned, Kyodo News reported.
The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia, patrolled by both Chinese and Taiwanese navy and coastguard vessels.
The strait is in international waters, however, China claims Taiwan as its own territory and regards the US Navy's presence in the area as a show of support for the island's democratic government.
The ASEAN Defense Ministers-Plus meeting, hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and chaired by member Brunei, was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In his remarks, Kishi criticized a Chinese law implemented in February that allows China's coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships the country sees as illegally entering its waters.
"This law contains provisions that are problematic from the point of view of consistency with international law, such as ambiguities where it can be applied in waters, as well as the authority to use weapons," the minister told his counterparts.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Beijing's "nine-dash line" territorial claim covers 90 per cent of the 3.5-million-sq. km South China Sea, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruling against the claim in 2016. (ANI)