China Rules Out Xi-Abe Meeting at G-20 as Island Dispute Simmers

A senior Chinese diplomat said Japan is only paying “lip service” to the idea of resolving a territorial dispute and ruled out a meeting between the two countries’ leaders at a Group of 20 summit next month.

Chinese President Xi Jinping won’t meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, because Japan isn’t serious about improving ties, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told reporters in Beijing today, citing Japan’s continued “provocative moves” in the East China Sea.

“Under these circumstances, there is no basis for talks,” Li said at a briefing to discuss Xi’s trip to the G-20 meeting. “The Japanese side should stop paying lip service to the issue.”

Li’s remarks reflect the lack of progress in a dispute over an uninhabited island chain -- known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese -- that has damaged trade and diplomatic ties. Japan’s government bought three of the five islands from their private owner last September, sparking protests across China. China’s exports to Japan fell 2 percent in July from a year earlier, the sixth straight decline.

Abe said he wanted to exchange views on regional stability with the leaders of both China and South Korea, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing comments Abe made yesterday during a visit to Kuwait.

Three Chinese Coast Guard vessels briefly entered Japanese waters today near the disputed islands, Japan’s Coast Guard said in a statement. Similar incidents took place earlier this month.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michael Forsythe in Hong Kong at mforsythe@bloomberg.net; Xin Zhou in Beijing at xzhou68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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