Beijing has ruled out any imminent leaders’ summit with Tokyo, Chinese state-run media said Tuesday after a Japanese official raised the possibility, in a rebuff underscoring tensions over a long-running maritime dispute.
Asia’s two largest economies are locked in a bitter row over a string of islands in the resource-rich East China Sea, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
Isao Iijima, a close adviser to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said on Sunday after a visit to Beijing that a high-level summit “will be held in the not-so-distant future”. A day earlier, Abe also said he would like to hold such talks.
But an unnamed official told the China Daily: “What Iijima told reporters on Sunday is not true and is fabricated, based on the needs of Japan’s domestic politics.”
The official added that Iijima had not met any Chinese government officials, nor did either side discuss a leaders’ meeting.
“Beijing has ruled out the possibility of an upcoming leaders’ summit with Tokyo,” the China Daily said.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in an online statement that “as far as I know”, Iijima “has not engaged in any official activity in China, nor have officials of the Chinese government made contact with him”.
Diplomatic ties have frayed since last September when Japan nationalised some of the islands, triggering street protests across China.
Tokyo controls the islands, but official Chinese ships regularly patrol the waters nearby—believed to be potentially rich in petroleum deposits—raising concerns over a possible confrontation.
The two countries are major trading partners, but have a festering disagreements over Japan’s imperial past and its invasion and occupation of parts of China. AFP