Aug 28, 2013

    Beijing sees no basis for Tokyo talks

    CHINA sees no reason to hold talks with Japan over their dispute about ownership of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong said yesterday.

    Relations between the world's second- and third-largest economies have been strained for months, largely because of the spat over the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to improve ties and has called for high-level dialogue with China, though he has rejected any conditions on talks and China has shown no inclination to want them.

    Mr Li said Japan's call for high-level talks was not genuine, but merely grandstanding.

    "A meeting between leaders is not simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems," he told reporters ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's attendance at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit next week.

    "If Japan wants to arrange a meeting to resolve problems, they should stop with the empty talk and doing stuff for show," Mr Li said, when asked about the possibility of a meeting of Chinese and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of the G-20.

    Aircraft and ships from both countries have played a cat-and-mouse game near the islands for months.

    Japan's Coast Guard said yesterday that three Chinese coast-guard vessels had entered what Japan considered to be its territorial waters near the disputed islands. China said the trip was a routine patrol in its own waters.

    Moves by some Japanese politicians to deny the country's wartime past do not help, Mr Li added, saying: "Under these conditions, how can we organise the kind of leaders' summit that Japan wants?"

    China reacted with fury this month after Mr Abe sent an offering to a shrine for war dead which also honours war criminals, while Cabinet members visited it in person. Japanese leaders have apologised in the past, but many in China doubt their sincerity, partly because of contradictory remarks by politicians.

    Meanwhile, Japan voiced irritation yesterday over comments by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who called on Tokyo to face up to the past and improve ties with its neighbours.

    Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he doubted whether Mr Ban was fully aware of the efforts Japan was making towards dialogue with China and South Korea.