China accuses Japan of escalating island dispute

September 21st, 2010 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Beijing/Tokyo, Sep 21 (DPA) China Tuesday accused Japan of compounding “errors” over a ship collision near disputed islands and said relations between the two nations were worsening over the incident.
“This incident was incited by Japan,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said of the collision Sep 7 in the East China Sea. “Now they add error to error and escalate the problem.”

“The key to resolving the problem is in the hands of Japan,” Jiang said, urging Tokyo to take “practical measures”, including the immediate release of the captain of the Chinese fishing boat involved in the collision with two Japan Coast Guard patrol boats.

Jiang said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao did not plan to meet his Japanese counterpart during the gathering of global leaders for two UN meetings this week in New York.

“In the current atmosphere, it is obviously not appropriate to arrange such a meeting,” she said.

It was not clear if a meeting between the two premiers had been planned, but Chinese officials said Wen did plan to meet US President Barack Obama in New York.

Jiang said Japan’s handling of the collision had “caused severe harm to Sino-Japanese relations and also affected communications at all levels”.

In another sign of the fall-out from the collision, a Chinese music promoter said Tuesday that it had cancelled two planned concerts in Shanghai by popular Japanese band SMAP.

Tens of thousands of tickets had been sold for the concerts on October 9-10, which were “temporarily postponed due to technical problems”, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the promoter as saying.

Earlier Tuesday, Japan warned against escalating the dispute and resorting to nationalism.

“Responsible people in the governments in both Japan and China should take care not to provoke narrow-minded and extreme nationalism,” Japanese government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said.

“We will use all possible channels to ask China to resolve the matter without escalating it,” he said.

Sengoku said Tokyo had not yet been informed officially by Beijing that ministerial-level talks have been frozen after reports Monday that China has suspended high-level government contacts with Japan.

The Chinese government allowed several small-scale anti-Japanese demonstrations over the weekend in Beijing and other Chinese cities as Japanese authorities on Sunday extended the detention of the Chinese captain who was detained near the disputed islands, which are known as Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

The islands, together with the oil-rich surrounding area, are claimed by all three governments.

Responding to Japanese media reports last week that China had transported drilling equipment to the Chunxiao oil and gas field, Jiang said China’s activities in the disputed area were “completely legal and reasonable”, although she did not deny or confirm any new activity there.

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