News / Asia

Chinese Official Calls for Dialogue on Island Dispute

VOA News
A senior Chinese leader is calling for talks with Japan to resolve an increasingly bitter dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

Jia Qinglin, who heads China's top political advisory body, made the comments during a meeting with former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The state-run China Daily quoted Jia as saying Beijing places "great importance" on its ties with Japan, and that the dispute should be resolved in order to preserve regional stability.

His remarks are in contrast to Beijing's recent hard-line rhetoric on the long-running dispute, which has worsened significantly in the past few months, with both sides sending fighter jets to patrol the islands.

A China scholar at the University of Nottingham in Britain, Steve Tsang, tells VOA that Jia's comments are significant, even if they do not represent a fundamental change in Chinese policy.

"It is a very significant escalation and the risk of an unintended further escalation is very high. And therefore any move on the part of either government to try to back off from the escalation is a very positive thing," Tsang said.

For its part, Japan has rejected talks about the islands, saying there can be no discussions over territory it has long considered its own.
 
Hatoyama, the ex-prime minister who supports closer relations between the two Asian powers, told Jia during the Wednesday meeting that Tokyo should end its policy of not formally recognizing the dispute.

The Japanese government later criticized Hatoyama. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it was "extremely regrettable" that a former prime minister would make such remarks, adding they were "clearly opposite" to Japan's position.

Hatoyama, who is making a private trip to China, pushed for closer relations with Japan's neighbors during his time as prime minister from September 2009 to June 2010.

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China-Japan relations reached a low point last year after Japan nationalized some of the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Since then, Beijing has sent regular patrol boats to "monitor" the Japanese-controlled islands, which are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potential energy deposits.

Although there have been no clashes, both countries have sent fighter jets to the islands in recent weeks, raising fears of a conflict between Asia's two largest economies.

Japan annexed the islets in the late 19th century. China claimed sovereignty over the archipelago in 1971, saying ancient maps show it has been Chinese territory for centuries.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wang from: China
January 18, 2013 3:19 PM
Caubang war 1979, China got very bitter from little Vietnam, the good friend Vietnam betrayed to China because China want to used Vietnam like Tibet, but not ease like China thought. Now is Japan, Vietnam,Philippines and etc. want to bring China to the bottom.
In Response

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 19, 2013 11:29 PM
I must say I buy Chinese products, I am happy to do so. I have many Chinese friends, and they are very nice people. I do not want to see anything bad happen to China, nor to Japan. I also do not want to see a massive arms race in Asia. What I do want to see in any conflict, is the use of international laws and conflict resolution systems. I am not an expert, on arbitration of facts, I do not even know all the facts. I think, as the Sr, Chinese gvmt officials have stated, that a peaceful resolution, should be achieved. China as any one else, needs to press its case through the UN, with all the facts it has to show they have a case; I am sure Japan will show its case; and some form of arbitration should solve the issue. Confronting ships/aircrafts etc, are a recepe for a potential disaster, because of human error. In the meantime, both China and Japan should conduct a normal relationship, so as not to alarm all of Asia and beyond. Past Japanese errors need to be put behind, the world prospers better under peace conditions.
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 19, 2013 12:24 AM
@ Wang from China

You have a very simplistic mind. No other sovereignty can be used by any other country they have responsibility to its citizen as well as to the larger global community.

I have not heard of any country had been used by China. Have you?

by: Wangchuk from: NYC
January 18, 2013 10:44 AM
The CCP wants China to be the Middle Kingdom again. The CCP is very hegemonistic & is trying to bully other Asian nations. Asian nations & the US should stand up to the PRC. CCP's policies are pushing China into conflict with its neighbors.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 18, 2013 3:26 AM
Dissapointingly ex-prime minister Hatoyama is made fun of by Japanese people because he had been too oportunistic to trust what he said during his term. Any Japanese no longer listen to what he says. He has no power in any part in Japan.
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 20, 2013 6:59 PM
@ Yoshi from Sapporo

You as a Japanese should be proud of Hatoyama for performing an excellent service for his country. He is reaching out to China on behalf of his country to offer its sincerity of its action in WWII. In doing so endeavour to reduce the current tension.
This should serve a good example to many Japanese who continue of harbour militaristic view and self ego.

by: Igor from: Russia
January 17, 2013 11:20 PM
Japan must take stronger actions to stop the Pirate State of China's intention to invade the island. If China continue to send airfighters and ships there, you must shoot down some of their J 10 and sink some of their warships. Chinese army is large but coward and is not professional.
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 19, 2013 12:09 AM
@ Igor from Russia

Why don't you take a cold shower and settle down. You might be able to think clearer and talk some sense. Rambling along like a warmonger show your immaturity in posting illogical comments.

by: DI DAO
January 17, 2013 10:16 PM
China have too may population with out land and shelters, China try to bump every countries in SE Asia and use them as slaves like Tibet. If you SE Asia don't get together and cooperate closely one day it will to late.
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 19, 2013 12:04 AM
@ DI DAO

Please do not spread false information instigating that China is using SE Asia and Tibetan as slave. South East Asian people are smarter than you to listen this sort of nonsense ,and as for Tibetans they are one of the five major ethnic races of China. China do not imprison any people as slaves. You should check your information before you post them.
I also recommend you to read the Tibetans history prior to the 1950s and I also suggest you compare the current living condition of current Tibetans with the past to note the difference.

by: kioto from: usa
January 17, 2013 7:22 PM
Why none of my commnets is shown?
Chinse websites show the vilest attacks on China as any website should be, imparitial and respect all views.
Yet this site does not show any comment slavishly following the Japanese point of view.
This is not voice of America; it is voice of Japan as no American can be this unfair.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 19, 2013 3:52 AM
It is probably not only you but including me whose comments were not shown. Reflecting on my experinece, I notice my commnets were too selfish, one way and emotional. I hope yours were not such one.   
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 18, 2013 10:00 PM
@ kioto from usa

I agree with you, my first comment in this article were not shown as well. Even in Globaltimes and JapanToday websites one could post a pro or anti comments about the article it got posted. I am sure VOA can do better than them.

by: toni from: usa
January 17, 2013 4:31 PM
Abe should keep his promise to focus on Japanese economy.
Instead he is damaging Japan's economy by engaging in frivilous military blinksmanship.

by: kioto from: usa
January 17, 2013 4:27 PM
It is time for Japan to act like adults.
Chicken games are for teenie bobbies, not for dignified leaders.
Chinese has acted like an adult with constant stance while Japan acts like a ruderless ship drifting with the wind.
Japan, grow up.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 17, 2013 3:02 PM
Japan controls the islands, owns the islands, for 100+ years. Maybe China will offer some form of territorial exchange? or else is a "stick them up, give me the islands..." type of dialogue. Like the dialogue over the Spratly islands?
In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 18, 2013 3:28 AM
@ JFK from Ottawa, Canada

China discovered Diaoyu Islands in the 14th Century during the Ming Dynasty, way before your claimed that Japan controls the Island for 100+ years. May be it's time Japan should come to the negotiation table with China and return the islands as well.

By returning the Islands to China it at least proves its sincerity and seriousness in valuing the progress made with China for the last 30 years.

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