BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities will survey the Diaoyu Islands in an aim to "safeguard China's marine rights," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told a routine press conference on Tuesday.
Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks in response to questions concerning the announcement made earlier on Tuesday that China plans to survey the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea as part of a program to map its territorial islands and reefs.
"Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets have been the inherent territory of China since ancient times," Hong reiterated.
The first stage of the island surveying and mapping was launched in 2009. Work to monitor islands located within 100 km of the coastline has been completed, according to a document issued at a press conference held by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation.
The second stage will cover islands including the Diaoyu Islands, the document said.
Hong also briefed reporters on a Monday meeting between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying and Kenji Kosaka, the former Japanese education minister who is now a House of Councillors member of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Hong added that China and Japan have maintained communication on how to settle current disputes at various diplomatic levels, and China is also listening to messages delivered via various channels from Japan.
According to Hong, Fu briefed Kosaka, who privately visited China on Monday, about current perceptions held by the Chinese government and its people toward Japan and China-Japan relations. Hong said Fu reiterated China's policies and principles on the development of bilateral relations.
Bilateral relations are currently facing difficult situations and stand at a vital moment, Hong quoted Fu as saying. He added that Fu welcomed efforts from various Japanese communities to diminish negative effects on the development of China-Japan relations.
Responding to questions concerning the former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's visit to China that started Tuesday, Hong said the Chinese government has always maintained normal exchanges and visits with Japan's ruling and opposition political parties, as well as friendly groups from the country, to improve communication and resolve bilateral disputes.