Sino-Japan meeting on Diaoyu row at UN fails to yield breakthrough
There was no breakthrough in the East China Sea islands dispute between China and Japan yesterday, following a "severe" exchange of views on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Foreign ministers for both countries reported little progress in their hour-long meeting about the sovereignty fight over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands, which has driven relations between the two neighbours to their lowest level in years.
"Disagreements remained between the two parties," Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said after meeting his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi , according to Kyodo News.
Gemba described the meeting's atmosphere as "severe".
Gemba was believed to have sought Beijing's acceptance of the Japanese government's purchase of some of the uninhabited islands. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said he had misjudged Beijing's reaction to the move, which prevented Tokyo's nationalist governor, Shintaro Isihara, from buying them.
In the meeting, Gemba said he urged restraint over the island row, saying "an individual case shouldn't affect the overall Japan-China relations".
In reply, Yang accused the Japanese of "a gross violation of China's territorial integrity and sovereignty" and said it would not "tolerate any unilateral actions by the Japanese side on the Diaoyu Islands", according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
It was the first time the pair had met since Japan announced the purchase earlier this month, triggering violent protests in China and spurring a series of tense coastguard encounters in the waters surrounding the islands.
Both sides did agree to maintain lower-level talks on the issue, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said in Tokyo.
"There are no magic tricks in diplomacy," Fujimara said.
"It all comes down to holding talks through various channels and at various levels."
The talks came hours after deputy foreign ministers Zhang Zhijun of China and Chikao Kawai of Japan failed on Tuesday in Beijing to fix a formal meeting between Yang and Gemba.
"The ministerial meeting shows the Chinese government is still willing to communicate with Japan, despite their belief that Japan will not back down on the territorial dispute," said Professor Zhou Yongsheng , a Sino-Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University.
Zhou said it was "probably the reason why the Chinese side didn't want to meet in the first place".
Meanwhile, tensions remained high between the two countries, as Beijing, local governments and mainland consumers launched a series of countermeasures and boycotts to punish the Japanese.