China angrily rejects Japanese calls for dialogue

Japan points to first World War rivalry between Britain and Germany as warning

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe:  Ties with China have  suffered over his December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours war criminals alongside the war dead. Photograph: Yuya Shino/Reuters

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe: Ties with China have suffered over his December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours war criminals alongside the war dead. Photograph: Yuya Shino/Reuters

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 19:34


Relations between Japan and China continue to deteriorate after Beijing responded angrily to prime minister Shinzo Abe’s evocation of the rivalry between Britain and Germany before the first World War and his call for talks.

Mr Abe told a group of editors at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Germany and Britain went to war despite their strong economic ties, and said Japan and China must do everything to avoid a similar fate.

China angrily rejected calls for dialogue, saying they lacked sincerity, and using strong rhetoric to attack the Japanese stance. “We have repeatedly stated our position on this. The Japanese leader should not dream of having empty talks while refusing to acknowledge his mistakes and continuing to make negative remarks on China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing.


Historic grudge
Sino-Japanese ties have long suffered from what Beijing sees as Japan’s failure to atone for brutal occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and 1940s. But relations have worsened in the past few years over a long-running dispute over a string of East China Sea islets that both countries claim, known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku in Japanese. China declared an air defence zone in the East China Sea in November.

Ties have also suffered over Mr Abe’s December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours war criminals alongside the war dead.

“If the Japanese leader was the descendant of the victims of World War II, or of the people forced to be wartime labourers and sex slaves, or of victims of bacteriological tests conducted by Japan’s No 731 unit on live humans in China from the 1930s throughout World War II, would he still visit the Yasukuni Shrine?” Qin said of the visit.

World’s largest ship
This week, China said it was planning to build the world’s largest surveillance ship, with a full displacement of 10,000 tonnes. If the giant ship is built, China will surpass Japan to possess the world’s largest marine vessel.

China has also started issuing warnings to foreign military planes entering its self-declared air defence zone over the East China Sea.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said multiple types of Chinese planes recently conducted a long-range patrol inside the sweeping zone.

He said the Chinese planes identified a number of foreign military aircraft, flew alongside them and issued warnings to them. He didn’t identify the planes or say when the patrol was conducted.