Beijing yesterday criticised the US after the State Department declined to recognise any country's claim to the Diaoyu Islands. 'I don't think the American Government has enough knowledge of the history of this issue,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said. 'It is very clear the Diaoyu Islands belong to China and we have sufficient historical and legal evidence to prove this.' China lodged a formal protest with Tokyo on Tuesday over right-wing activists' occupation of the islands 'with the connivance of the Japanese Government', Mr Shen said. 'The Japanese Government's behaviour on this issue is no accident considering certain officials and right-wing activists have made absurd comments regarding Japan's history of aggression. The ball is in their court,' he said. 'It is a question of whether Japan can gain the trust of other Asian countries by taking action on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands and correcting its position on historical issues.' The foreign affairs spokesman refused to comment when asked whether China was prepared to send military forces to the islands to bolster its territorial claims. Next Wednesday marks the anniversary of Japan's 1931 military occupation of Manchuria, an invasion that triggered the Sino-Japanese War. Mr Shen urged Japan to consider a 'thorough self-examination' of past militarism in pressing its claim to the disputed archipelago. 'It wasn't China that posed a threat to its Asian neighbours in the Second World War - it was Japan,' he said. 'Japanese militarists staged a war which left scars that still remain among Asian people. 'They owe a debt to the people of Asia.' The Japanese Embassy in Beijing refused to comment on Mr Shen's remarks. In Taiwan, protesters burned Japanese flags and cursed what they said was rising militarism. Members of the nationalist Japan Youth Federation repaired a lighthouse on the islands on Monday to dramatise Tokyo's century-old claim to the Diaoyus, an act China denounced as a violation of its 'sacred sovereignty'.