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China ‘Strongly’ Opposes Japan Landing on Disputed Islands

China “strongly” opposes the landing of Japanese citizens on disputed islands, the Foreign Ministry said.

Japan’s move “constitutes a severe violation of China’s territorial sovereignty” and Japan “must immediately stop all activities that infringe upon China’s sovereignty,” spokesman Hong Lei said in a brief statement late yesterday on the ministry’s website.

Japanese nationals visited the islands Sept. 21 with the excuse of preventing a landing by Taiwanese activists, he said. China Central Television described the Japanese group as security personnel.

The dispute over the islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japanese, has produced the worst diplomatic crisis between China and Japan since 2005 and may continue to threaten trade ties between Asia’s two biggest economies. The issue sparked violent protests in China against Japanese shops and businesses earlier this month after Japan’s government announced plans to buy the isles.

“China will continue to take measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands,” Hong said, without elaborating.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will send a delegation to Japan tomorrow as part of the diplomatic efforts to ease tensions over the dispute.

Peaceful Solution

China is committed to solving disputes over territory and maritime rights peacefully, Vice President Xi Jinping said in a speech at the China-Asean Business and Investment Summit in southern China on Sept. 21. At the same time, it will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.

Japan must be firm “without being provocative or being provoked” on territorial issues, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on the same day.

About 700 people marched in central Tokyo yesterday to protest China’s claim to the rocky islands and the presence of Chinese surveillance ships in nearby waters, the Sankei newspaper reported on its website, citing police estimates.

The march was planned by Ganbare Nippon, the group that organized a boat trip to the islands last month by about 150 Japanese after activists from Hong Kong were arrested for landing on one and planting a Chinese flag.

Yesterday’s protesters marched about one kilometer (0.6 miles) carrying flags and placards, while chanting “We’ll defend the Senkakus,” according to the Sankei report.

China and Japan’s business relations “have obviously been affected by Japan’s purchase of the Diaoyu Islands” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong said Sept. 21. “Japan should face squarely the realities and correct its mistakes.”

Authorities in Beijing published a list of Chinese names and descriptions of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both China and Japan, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

Engaging China in a broader regional role is essential to preventing tensions in Pacific, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview today with Television New Zealand.

“The territorial problems that we’re facing right now are a good example,” he said according to an e-mailed transcript. “If nations can’t resolve that, that could be real trouble in this region.”

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