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Beijing rejects US offer to host Diaoyu talks

By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-03 07:52
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Territorial dispute is the business of China, Japan, Foreign Ministry says

BEIJING - Beijing on Tuesday rejected Washington's offer to host trilateral talks with China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands.

China reiterated its sovereignty over the islands and made clear it is a bilateral issue between Beijing and Tokyo.

"The territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands is the business of the two nations only," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a statement published on the ministry's website.

"It is absolutely wrong for the United States to repeatedly claim the Diaoyu Islands fall within the scope of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security," Ma said, reiterating that the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets are an inalienable part of China's territory.

"What the US should do is immediately correct its wrong position," said Ma.

Ma made the remarks when asked about Washington's offer to host trilateral talks with Beijing and Tokyo made during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's discussion with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi last week in Hanoi.

"I'd like to stress that this is only a US idea," said Ma.

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have been under intense strain since collisions between two Japan Coast Guard patrol boats and a Chinese trawler on Sept 7 in waters off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Beijing suspended all high-level contacts with Tokyo after Japan illegally detained the Chinese trawler captain.

"The offer that I made, that the US would be willing to host a trilateral with both Japan and China if that would facilitate dialogue, stands and it is not only about one issue," Clinton told reporters at a joint news conference with the Malaysian foreign minister during a visit to the country on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported on Monday that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) planned to send a delegation of no more than 10 members to China in mid-December, headed by the party's secretary general and former foreign minister, Katsuya Okada.

Okada told a news conference that the visit would be "basically a part of exchanges between the DPJ and the Communist Party of China". Last year, former DPJ secretary general Ichiro Ozawa led a 140-strong delegation to China.

Kyodo said Okada intends to make use of his experience as a former foreign minister to help Prime Minister Naoto Kan improve Sino-Japanese relations.

Analysts called for direct and effective talks between Beijing and Tokyo, but said they should be strictly limited within the bilateral scope.

"The meeting between ruling parties of the two nations" will engender high hopes especially when ties are strained, said Yang Bojiang, a professor at China's University of International Relations.

But it is hard to predict whether Okada will bring a well-coordinated message from the Japanese government, Yang said.

Shi Yinhong, a senior scholar on US studies at the Renmin University of China, said the offer by the US is against the principles of China's foreign policy and common international practice in solving territorial disputes. In such disputes, talks are usually between the two countries directly concerned, he said.

"Not to mention the US actually takes Japan's side in the name of 'mediating' between Beijing and Tokyo," Shi said.

Kan is due to host the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on Nov 13-14, which President Hu Jintao is expected to attend.

Beijing called off a formal meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Kan on the sidelines of an Asian summit in Hanoi on Oct 29, as the Foreign Ministry accused Japan of damaging the atmosphere for the meeting by spreading misleading information on a meeting between the two foreign ministers earlier that day.

Wang Chenyan and Zhou Wa contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/03/2010 page1)