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Beijing Says China-Japan Summit Unlikely

  • VOA News

China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, March 12, 2012.

China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, March 12, 2012.

A senior Chinese diplomat is casting doubt on the likelihood of a meeting between leaders of China and Japan on the sidelines of next week's G20 summit in Russia.

Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said Tuesday such a meeting would be very difficult to organize, given the current state of relations that have been strained by a territorial dispute.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a high-level summit with China. Reports suggest he is hoping for an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 meeting.

Li rejected the reported Japanese offers as disingenuous, saying meetings should not be held "simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems."

China-Japan ties reached their lowest point in years after the Tokyo government's purchase last September of a group of islands in the East China Sea from their private Japanese landowner.

The uninhabited islands, which are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Tokyo. But since the purchase, China has sent regular air and sea patrols near the area in what some view as an attempt to challenge Japan's sovereignty of the area.

Beijing officials have also expressed anger at Japanese leaders they feel have denied their country's wartime past. Earlier this month, China objected to a visit by Japanese cabinet members to a controversial shrine that honors the country's war dead, including some convicted war criminals.

Li on Tuesday called for Japan to "properly face up to history" and take "real actions" to get rid of the obstacles to healthy bilateral ties.

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