“We’re watching … that tension very, very carefully, and certainly our commitment to the region remains,” Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters.
“And, you know, we’re hopeful that the political and diplomatic efforts would reduce that tension specifically, and haven’t seen anything that would, I guess, raise the alarm levels higher than that.”
The China-Japan tension escalated following a Sept. 7 incident involving a Chinese fishing boat that was ordered out of waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands. The boat responded by ramming two Japanese patrol boats, and its captain and crew were detained and an investigation launched. The 14 crew members were eventually released but the captain, Zhan Qixiong, remains in custody.
In New York, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the China-Japan dispute during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and urged both sides to pursue dialogue, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
Mr. Crowley said Mr. Maehara “indicated that Japan was working this in accordance with both its legal process and international law.”
“Neither side wants to see the situation escalate to the point where it has long-term regional impact,” Mr. Crowley said.
The Senkaku Islands are in the western Pacific, south of Okinawa and north of Taiwan.
China’s government issued several diplomatic protest notes and canceled a visit to Japan by a senior government official. Beijing also suspended plans to resume talks with Japan on disputed undersea natural-gas fields.
According to Japanese officials, nationalist sentiment in China has resulted in several incidents of anti-Japanese violence in China, including the breaking of windows at a Japanese school in Beijing.