US envoy tells China, Japan to keep calm in sea row

Written by Reuters | Beijing | Updated: Feb 28 2014, 07:45am hrs
China and Japan must ease tension in the disputed East China Sea to avoid severe unintended consequences, US Ambassador to China Gary Locke said on Thursday, days before he steps down as Washingtons first Chinese-American envoy in Beijing.

Asias two largest economies have been locked in a war of words after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyos Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, which China sees as a symbol of militarism because it honours wartime leaders along with millions of war dead.

The last thing we need is some unintended incident that leads to unintended consequences, very severe consequences, Locke, who departs China on Saturday to be replaced by US Senator Max Baucus, told reporters. Its important that both sides lower the temperature and focus on diplomacy, he said, adding that the US takes no sides in the territorial dispute that flared in 2012 over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.