VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — China warned Japan on Saturday it would not back down in a territorial dispute in the East China Sea that has escalated over reports the Japanese government may buy contested islands.
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China was determined “to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Japan should take concrete actions to meet the Chinese side halfway to reduce tensions and promote Sino-Japanese ties of mutual benefit,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit held this year in the Russia city of Vladivostok.
Often testy Japan-China ties took a turn for the worse in August when pro-Beijing activists landed on a Japanese-controlled island chain, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
They were arrested by Japanese authorities and deported. Days later about a dozen Japanese nationalists raised their country’s flag on the same island, prompting protests in cities across China.
Reports emerged in the past week that the Japanese government may purchase the islands in an apparent bid to please right-wingers at home, annoying Beijing.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday he would not hold talks with either China or South Korea on the sidelines of the 21-meeting Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc’s meeting.
An August visit by South Korea’s Lee to Seoul-controlled islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, provoked outrage in Tokyo and a diplomatic tit-for-tat.
Noda, however, met Saturday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is representing President Barack Obama in Vladivostok.
“Considering the current situation in Asia, it is very important that Japan and the U.S. have occasions for close discussions at a high level,” Noda told Clinton as the talks between the close allies got under way.