09/20/2010, 00.00
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China freezes high-level talks, Tokyo expresses "regret"

The diplomatic row between the two countries continues indirectly. The Japanese court extends the detention of the Chinese captain. In response to Beijing "makes known" through media it is suspending relations between officials of both governments. The premiers of the two countries will be in New York this week.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Japan  says it “regrets” the Chinese decision to suspend high-level meetings between the two countries, but calls for their resumption. Yesterday Beijing "froze" relations and threatened other measures, after Tokyo extended until Sept. 29 its detention of the captain of the Chinese ship that rammed a Japanese patrol vessel near the disputed uninhabited Diaoyu Islands, (Senkaku to Japanese), in the East China Sea September 7. Noriyuki Shikata spokesman for Japanese Prime Minister, said today that "it is regrettable if what was reported last night is true " explaining that they had received no official communications about the suspension of bilateral relations at ministerial and provincial levels. He however invited Beijing “to calm and careful action [by China] so that this particular incident would not affect the whole of relations between Japan and China". But Beijing has already postponed the talks scheduled to discuss their exploration of the disputed islands energy reserves and has also stopped contacts to increase flights between the nations.  It also cancelled an invitation for 1000 Japanese students to come to Shanghai tomorrow to visit the World Expo. China insists that the arrest is illegal. On the website of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman But Zhaoxu reiterated that "China demands the immediate release of the captain without conditions" and warned Japan not to commit one "mistake after another" by holding him in prison.

Tokyo had arrested the entire crew of the Chinese vessel guilty of ramming the patrol boat, but then only held the captain Zhan Qixiong, who they have no intention of releasing given that he is held to have acted intentionally, moreover in territory that Japan considers its own. Shikata insists that it is "inappropriate and reprehensible" to want to "overlook the question of law, on the issue" of the captain. Under Japanese law after September 29 the captain will have to be formally charged or released.

The premiers of the two countries, Naoto Kan and Wen Jiabao, will be in New York this week to participate in the work of the UN, but there are no direct meetings.

Meanwhile on September 18 there were small "spontaneous" anti-Japanese demonstrations in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong for the anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

Even Taiwan has intervened in the dispute, in turn claiming rights over the islands, rich in fish and possibly oil and gas.

In recent days, Prime Minister Khan warned in turn that if China starts drilling in the Chunxiao gas fields, another disputed area, Tokyo "will take countermeasures, possibly bringing the case before the International Maritime Court”.

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Tokyo frees Chinese sailors arrested off the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands
Captured fishing vessel raises tension between Beijing and Tokyo
Beijing flies into Senkaku / Diaoyu airspace fueling tension in East China Sea
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China-Japan diplomatic incident: captain of a Chinese ship arrested


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