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China tells Japan to 'dispel illusions' over disputed islands

Publication Date : 29-09-2012

 

The two countries trade insults at UN meeting

 

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has accused Japan of "stealing" China’s Diaoyu Islands, strongly urging Japan to stop violating China’s territorial sovereignty.

"The moves taken by Japan are totally illegal and invalid. They can in no way change the historic fact that Japan stole Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets from China and the fact that China has territorial sovereignty over them," Yang said at the general debate of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

"China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all activities that violate China’s territorial sovereignty, take concrete actions to correct its mistakes, and return to the track of resolving the dispute through negotiation," Yang continued.

The Chinese foreign minister noted that, by taking such unilateral actions as the so-called "island purchase", the Japanese government has grossly violated China’s sovereignty.

"This is an outright denial of the outcomes of the victory of the world anti-fascist war and poses a grave challenge to the post-war international order and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations," he said.

Yang’s speech came two days after he met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with his Japanese counterpart, Koichiro Gemba, who requested the meeting.

Yang reinforced the Chinese government’s position and asked Japan to "face reality and dispel any illusions" in the meeting.

Yang also explained China’s solemn positions on the Diaoyu Islands issue when meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

The US has said it will stay neutral on the islands dispute. Clinton urged China and Japan to let "cool heads" prevail in the festering dispute, Reuters reported.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda didn’t mention the islands in his speech during the general debate on Wednesday morning but said at a press conference that Japan sees "no compromise" on the Diaoyu Islands with China.

Earlier this month, the Noda cabinet approved a plan to "nationalise" the islands by "purchasing" them from a private Japanese "owner".

"The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been an integral part of China’s territory since ancient times," China’s foreign minister said at the General Assembly.

"China has indisputable historical and legal evidence in this regard."

Japan illegally seized the islands in 1895 at the end of the Sino-Japanese War.

After World War II, the Diaoyu Islands and other Chinese territories occupied by Japan were returned to China in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and other international documents.

Zhiqun Zhu, a professor of political science and international relations at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, said the current tensions were triggered by Japan’s "unilateral action to change the status quo, no matter what reason the Japanese government presents".

"Western countries should worry about Japan’s tendency to move to the right and its intentions to disrupt the status quo in the region," the scholar added.

Japan’s main opposition Liberal Democratic Party elected former prime minister Shinzo Abe as its new leader on Wednesday.

The victory of the traditional security hawk might have far-reaching implications on the increasingly tense relations between Japan and its neighbours, analysts said.

Abe is highly vocal in urging Tokyo to take a tougher line in its territorial disputes with China and the Republic of Korea.

He spoke on Tuesday of the need to stand up to Beijing. Since the Japanese government announced its "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands, all contenders in the race for the LDP leadership have struck hawkish tones.

Former Japanese defence minister Shigeru Ishiba said Japan should turn its Self-Defence Forces into "national defence forces" and exercise the right of collective self-defence.

At a seminar in Beijing on Friday, Assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng warned that the continuous erroneous practices by Japan would see bilateral ties "sink like the Titanic".

"Japan should abandon the idea that it can occupy the Diaoyu Islands and that sending a few envoys to China to explain the issue will be the end of it," Le said.

China has put off the official celebration of the 40th anniversary of the restoration of China-Japan relations, which was supposed to happen on Friday.

He called on Japan to build trust for bilateral ties by respecting the understanding and consensus on the Diaoyu Islands that the older generation of leaders of the two countries reached.

"Maintaining a friendly China-Japan relationship is not the business of China alone. The key is that Japan should follow the path of peaceful development and prevent right-wing forces from misleading the country, and accept rather than contain China’s development," Le said.

In another development, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday Chinese embassy in Tokyo had received a letter containing a rifle bullet.

Japanese police were informed and an investigation is ongoing.

The embassy has asked Japanese police to ensure the safety of Chinese in the country.

Cai Hong and Zhou Wa contributed to the story.

 

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