Chinese Ships Leave Gas Field Slated for Joint Development

A group of Chinese ships have left an area in the East China Sea slated for joint Japanese-Chinese gas field development, a Japanese government official said.

Three Chinese ships arrived at the "Shirakaba" gas field in the East China Sea on July 10, alerting Tokyo to the possibility of Chinese drilling at the site and prompting it to convey its strong concerns to Beijing.

The ships apparently left the sea area for China on July 15, according to a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

Tokyo and Beijing agreed in June last year to jointly develop the gas field with investment from Japanese companies. The two countries had agreed to suspend development work until they finalize the terms, such as investment ratio.

The Chinese government explained that the three ships were intended for the maintenance and management of the gas field. The Japanese government did not detect any suspicious operations such as gas drilling, which would violate the bilateral agreement, according to a high-ranking Japanese government official.

Tokyo will stay alert for any suspicious activity around the gas field, which had originally been developed by China.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.