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, Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong said.
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,” Li said ahead of President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the G20 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,” Li said, when asked about the possibility of a meeting of Chinese and Japanese leaders at the G20.
China’s blunt rejection came as Japan yesterday voiced irritation over a remark by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called on Tokyo to face up to the past and improve ties with its neighbours. Speaking in Seoul on Monday, Ban called for “very deep introspection” by Japanese leaders, especially with regard to moves in Japan to revise its pacifist constitution. “I find it very regrettable that the tension [among the three northeast Asian countries] continues on due to issues of history and other political reasons,” Ban said.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he doubted if Ban was fully aware of the efforts Japan was making towards dialogue with China and South Korea.
“Prime Minister [Shinzo Abe] has called for dialogue with South Korea and China despite issues of concern,” Suga said. “I feel a strong sense of doubt as to whether the remark was made with full understanding of our country’s position.”
However, Professor Lian Degui , of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said it was unlikely that a Chinese state leader would meet Abe if Japan did not address Beijing’s concerns over Tokyo’s nationalising of the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan refers to as the Senkakus.
“If Japan really wants to improve ties with China, then it should address our concern,” he said. “It makes no sense for Tokyo to ask for a dialogue if Japan does not change its stance.”
Japan’s coastguard said yesterday that three Chinese coastguard 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.
Reuters, Agence France Presse; additional reporting by Teddy Ng