Leaked Video Tests Ties

China-Japan tensions over a territorial dispute refuse to die down following leaked video footage of a ship collision.
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A Nov. 5, 2010 video grab from YouTube shows a Chinese trawler colliding with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel.
A Nov. 5, 2010 video grab from YouTube shows a Chinese trawler colliding with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will travel to Japan for an Asia-Pacific summit this weekend as Tokyo scrambled to investigate leaked video footage of a ship collision near disputed islands that raised concerns of renewed tensions between the two neighbors.

In another issue that could add to the jitters over the territorial dispute, Beijing has asked Japan not to attend a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo, Norway.

Beijing announced Tuesday that Hu will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum leaders' meeting in Yokohama from Nov. 13-14 but said there were no plans for him to meet Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. 

Japanese prosecutors meanwhile seized user records from Google in an investigation into how a video of a collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and a Japanese coastguard patrol vessel in the disputed Diaoyu island chain was leaked to YouTube.

The video, confirmed as authentic by Japan, showed the Chinese vessel bumping the Japanese ship as sirens wailed in the background. It was taken by the Japanese coastguard during the incident and kept quiet for fear of inflaming the already bitter dispute with China.

Black smoke

The video clips, some shot from the Japanese Coast Guard vessel Yonakuni and some from its companion vessel the Mizuki, show clouds of black smoke issuing from the scene after the Chinese trawler Min Jin Yu-5179 moved towards the Mizuki.

The Diaoyu Islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, include rich fishing grounds and possible oil and natural gas reserves.

Chinese officials have shrugged off the video, which has sparked further anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan.

"I would like to reiterate that the collision was caused by Japan disturbing, driving away, intercepting and surrounding the Chinese fishing boat in Chinese waters off the Diaoyu Islands," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a statement carried on the ministry's website.

"The so-called video cannot change the hard fact or cover the unlawfulness of Japan's actions," Hong said.

The September collision sparked furious anti-Japanese protests in cities across China, igniting diplomatic tension between Beijing and Tokyo.

Emotions began to run high after Japanese authorities arrested the Chinese trawler captain involved in the incident.

While the trawler's skipper has since returned home, the standoff sparked a nationwide outpouring of nationalist sentiment among a population that is still deeply resentful of Japan for its invasion of China in World War II.

Thousands of Chinese joined the wave of anti-Japanese protests across the country in recent weeks, smashing Japanese department stores, burning Japanese-made cars and calling for a boycott of Japanese goods.

Chinese officials have stopped short of forbidding the protests, saying that demonstrators should remain within the law.

Nobel ceremony issue

As tensions over the territorial dispute refuse to die down, Japanese Prime Minister Kan faced calls from China not to allow his officials to attend a Dec. 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Kan has said that Liu's release was "desirable" and asked his foreign minister to examine the issue over the Nobel ceremony participation.

Beijing has already warned European nations that supporting the jailed Chinese democracy activist would be seen as an affront to China's legal system.

Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail on subversion charges last December, after co-writing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform.

Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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