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Beijing has lodged an official protest with Tokyo over the Dalai Lama's trip to Japan, which comes amid tense relations between the two nations over the Diaoyu Islands dispute.
The protest comes as China confirmed that representatives of the two sides held talks in Beijing on Sunday and Monday over the dispute.
"The Dalai Lama, under the disguise of religion, is a political exile who has long been engaged in activities to split China," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a question regarding the Dalai Lama's 10-day trip to Japan, which began on Sunday.
Hong told a daily news conference that China has lodged a "solemn representation" to Japan and strongly opposes all forms of support from any country or individual for the Dalai Lama's separatist activities.
Hong warned that the Dalai Lama's international activities are aimed at colluding with "international anti-China separatist forces to sabotage relations between China and other countries so as to split the nation".
Hong also confirmed that Luo Zhaohui, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Department, held talks in Beijing on Sunday and Monday with Shinsuke Sugiyama, head of the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau.
Luo expressed China's readiness for a diplomatic resolution to the territorial dispute through negotiations, but said China will "never take a step back" on territorial issues, "over which the Japanese side should have a clear view".
Liang Yunxiang, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said neither Beijing nor Tokyo may take a major step back on the territorial issue, and both sides are seeking an acceptable point to reach a deal through negotiations. "Both countries are working hard for a resolution," Liang said.
The Beijing discussions were held at working-group level to prepare for the next round of vice-ministerial talks, believed to be the third of their kind, Japan's Jiji News Agency said.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun held his first talks with his Japanese counterpart, Chikao Kawai, on Sept 25.
Liu Yedan and Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 11/06/2012 page12)