China postpones commemoration of diplomatic ties with Japan
Reception marking 40 years of diplomatic links to be moved back to an 'appropriate time' because of Diaoyus Islands dispute
Beijing yesterday postponed a reception marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Japan, due to an ongoing territorial dispute, Xinhua reported.
"Due to the current situation, the Chinese side has decided that the reception commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations will be postponed until an appropriate time," Xinhua quoted an unidentified source from the semi-official Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China-Japan Friendship Association as saying.
The official blamed the Japanese government for insisting on "nationalising" the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, which "severely damaged China-Japan relations" and "ruined the atmosphere of the 40th anniversary".
Japanese Foreign Ministry official Hiroaki Sakamoto confirmed that China had cancelled the events, planned for Thursday. He did not provide further details. But Xinhua said it was a postponement, without elaborating on whether the events would be cancelled.
The reception was to mark the signing of the China-Japan Joint Statement on September 29, 1972. If not for the diplomatic row, high-ranking officials, including those at the level of state councillor and vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, were to take part in the event, making it the most high-profile and official part of the celebrations, according to analysts.
Media reports have said a delegation from the Communist Party's international affairs office, headed by former foreign ministry director of Asian affairs Yang Yanyi , would visit Japan today for four days and meet members of Japan's ruling Democratic Party and main opposition parties. The foreign ministers of both countries are expected to meet in New York at a gathering of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Professor Lin Xiaoguang, an expert on Sino-Japanese relations with the Central Party School in Beijing, said that cancelling the celebration was simply a move by Beijing to make Japan immediately feel the impact of the soured relations.
"There won't be any dramatic measures to deteriorate the conflicts, but there are measures such as cancelling trips to Japan, restricting rare-earth exports to Japan and increasing customs checks on imported Japanese products - they will all deal a blow to Japan's economy," Lin said.
In Guangzhou, more than 1,000 protestors in Huadu district took to the street yesterday to protest against Japanese police landing on the disputed island chain, Xinhua said. In Taipei, hundreds of people marched in protest against Japan's recent purchase of the Diaoyus.