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China cool to idea of summit with Japan
Publication Date : 31-07-2013
China looks to have turned down Japan's proposed summit between their leaders, but left room for further dialogue, on the last day of a Japanese envoy's visit in Beijing to thaw frosty ties.
Several Chinese newspapers questioned Tokyo's sincerity and the Foreign Ministry omitted mention of a summit in its statement on the visit yesterday.
The China Daily yesterday reported that Beijing has "ruled out the possibility of an upcoming leaders' summit with Tokyo", citing an unnamed government official. The official also denied a claim by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's adviser Isao Iijima, who visited Beijing, that a summit was not far off.
"What Iijima told reporters on Sunday... is fabricated, based on the needs of Japan's domestic politics," said the official.
In its statement on Vice-Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki's visit, which ended yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said he met his counterpart Liu Zhenmin, and also Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefly.
"Both sides exchanged views frankly over Sino-Japan relations. The Chinese side made clear its standpoint over problems afflicting bilateral relations," it said.
But Beijing did not close the door on dialogue completely, adding that both sides will keep up communications at all levels.
While Saiki's visit did not lead to a breakthrough, it was the first talks between vice-foreign ministers from both sides since Abe took office in December.
A territorial spat over small islands in the East China Sea has seen Sino-Japanese ties plunge to their lowest level in years.
Beijing has said that before a summit can be held, Tokyo must admit that a dispute exists over ownership of the isles, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. But Abe wants both sides to meet without preconditions.
Professor Liu Jiangyong of Tsinghua University, an expert on Sino-Japan relations, told The Straits Times that a meeting was unlikely when Japan didn't even concede that both sides have a dispute. "How can you cure the patient when he doesn't admit there's an illness?"