Talks Planned Amid Islands Spat

China will host a Japanese delegation to discuss bilateral relations, as nationalist protests continue over the Diaoyu Islands.
2012-09-24
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Chinese protestors hold banners and shout slogans during an anti-Japan protest in Shandong province, Sept. 16, 2012.
ImagineChina

China has announced it will hold vice-ministerial-level talks with Japan in a bid to shore up cooling ties amid growing tensions over a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Tensions between China and Japan, Asia's two biggest economies, have been running high amid several days of major protests in cities across China, and with Japanese and Chinese patrol boats gathering in the waters around the islands known in China as Diaoyu, and as Senkaku in Japan.

China has said it will use unmanned drones to carry out marine surveillance of the uninhabited islands, while Japan has protested the presence of Chinese vessels in the area.

"As requested by the Japanese, China agrees to receive Japanese deputy foreign minister Chikao Kawai to visit from Sept. 24 to 25," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Monday.

He said vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun would hold talks with Kawai on bilateral relations, especially on the issue concerning the Diaoyu Islands.

"During the consultations, the Chinese will state its solemn position on the Diaoyu Islands issue, urge the Japanese to correct its wrongdoing and make efforts to improve ties," Hong said.

Four Chinese ships briefly entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Monday, prompting an official protest from Tokyo.

And a group of fishermen from Taiwan—which also claims the islands—said as many as 100 boats escorted by 10 Taiwan Coast Guard vessels were headed for the area.

The purchase by the Japanese government earlier this month of the islands from the family that owned them previously sparked weeks of violent anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities, which were followed by anti-China demonstrations in Japan at the weekend.

China's State Oceanic Administration (CSOA) said two of its marine surveillance ships, the Haijian 46 and Haijian 66, "continued patrol and law enforcement activities around the Diaoyu Islands on Monday," official media reported.

"China has exercised its administrative jurisdiction over the islands and its surrounding waters by conducting the patrol," the official Xinhua news agency quoted the CSOA as saying.

Japanese protests

Meanwhile, Chinese commentators said continuing anti-Japanese protests in China were largely the result of government encouragement.

Retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang told RFA's Mandarin service that Beijing should carry full responsibility for an anti-China mood among the Japanese people.

"China has itself organized huge anti-Japanese protests, sustaining them over quite a long period of time," Sun said. "It is extremely clear that these demonstrations were organized by the authorities."

"There are a number of clues that reveal this, for example, the police station chief pretending to be a member of the public; the plainclothes cops getting involved in organizing the demonstrations and the smashing and looting."

"This was a phenomenon we saw in a number of locations," Sun said. "They are doing this so as to incite nationalism and a revenge mentality against Japan for old injuries."

"Of course this sort of behavior will spark a backlash in Japan, such as right-wing demonstrations."

He said the Chinese authorities could have issued statements in support of their sovereignty.

A media professional in Beijing surnamed Zhang said he didn't believe the anti-Japanese mood among ordinary Chinese would last long, particularly when it came to the nationwide boycott of Japanese goods.

"The quality of Chinese goods isn't high," he said, referring to a string of product safety scandals in recent years. "For example, foodstuffs ... people are bound to want to buy foreign products, even though they're a bit more expensive."

"This mood among the people to boycott Japanese goods has been manipulated; it's not a spontaneous expression of public feeling," Zhang said.

A Shenzhen-based worker surnamed Zhao who witnessed anti-Japanese demonstrations by thousands of workers at the Japanese-owned electronics factory SMK in the city last Friday, said a number of shops and businesses remained closed after the riot.

"There were a lot of police ... and they sealed off the streets and were stopping people going down a lot of them," she said. "The incident went on until Sunday ... but I heard they still haven't gone back to work."

"A lot of shops are still closed even now," Zhao said. "They are afraid of demonstrations and protests, so a lot of places are [shut]."

"Things are a bit better now, but it got pretty serious [at the weekend]," she said.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.