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China Rules Out High-Level Summit with Japan Over Island Dispute

July 30, 2013

by VOA News

A Chinese government official denies Beijing and Tokyo are planning high-level talks on a territorial dispute that has strained ties between the two Asian powers.

The unidentified official tells the state-run China Daily any Japanese speculation about such talks is "not true and is fabricated, based on the needs of Japan's domestic politics."

An aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday Abe could hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the "not too distant future."

But the Tuesday China Daily report said the aide, Isao Iijima, has not been in contact with Chinese government officials about any such talks.

It comes as Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki wraps up a two-day visit to China.

Prime Minister Abe has also said he hopes to hold high-level talks with China over the territorial dispute, which has sent China-Japan relations plummeting in recent months.

In September, Tokyo angered Beijing by nationalizing a group of uninhabited yet strategic East China Sea islands that have been the focus of a decades-long dispute.

Since then, China has increased its patrol missions near the Japan-controlled island chain, raising fears of clashes between Asia's two largest economies.

In addition to calling for dialogue, Japanese Prime Minister Abe, who took office in December, has taken a tough stance on the islands issue, a posture that has angered Beijing.

China's foreign ministry on Monday said Tokyo should "stop using empty slogans about so-called dialogue over disagreements," and begin taking unspecified concrete measures to lessen tensions.

The intensified dispute over the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu, comes amid wider Japanese worries about China's growing military prowess and rising international status.

Japan recently raised its assessment of the risk of China's military buildup and rising assertiveness, saying China is becoming less afraid of angering its neighbors as it pursues a bolder maritime policy.

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