China hints at trade sanctions on Japan over islands

The uninhabited islands are called as Diaoyu islands by China and Senkaku islands by Japan.

Beijing: China on Wednesday hinted at slapping economic and trade sanctions against Japan if it fails to rescind its move of purchasing disputed islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Beijing.

As Japanese government went ahead with its plans to buy the islands from a private party for about USD 26.5 million yesterday, China raised strong opposition saying that it amounted to stealing its territory and dispatched two Maritime Surveillance Vessels to the area.

The uninhabited islands are called as Diaoyu islands by China and Senkaku islands by Japan.

Asked whether China will consider economic and trade sanctions in view of the Japanese decision, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters here today that Beijing will "take all corresponding measures to defend its territorial sovereignty".

"China`s sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands and adjacent waters is sacred. There is plentiful historical and legal evidence for that. Japan`s so called purchase of the islands is illegal and invalid and China is firmly opposed to that", Hong said.

"China will closely monitor the developments of the situation. According to the situation China will take corresponding measures to defend its territorial sovereignty", he added.

Hong`s comments came as senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official, Shinsuke Sugiyama, held talks with his Chinese counterparts here today over the raging dispute which is escalating rapidly into war of words between the two countries.

"He is on a working visit. China has fully explained its solemn opposition to the Japanese side (over the purchase) and urged Japan restore its wrong decision", Hong said adding that talks are still going on.

Japanese officials said Sugiyama for his part sought to explain that the purchase would enable the Japanese government to deal with the islands in a more rational way and to prevent any construction planned by right wing elements on the islands.

Reports from Japan said the two surveillance ships sent by China close to the islands stayed out of 24 km restricted zone and closely monitored by the Japanese Coast Guard vessels.

Asked whether the ships would go into the restricted zone, Hong said the ships would "continue to carry out regular law enforcement activities in waters under China`s jurisdiction".

Meanwhile, the official media here has gone ballistic on the issue saying that Japan should be taught a lesson.

Chinese media came out scathing editorials against Japan for executing the purchase despite opposition from China.

"China has been advocating friendly ties with its
neighbour, but Japan has created enough troubles for China over the years. But its behaviour toward the US and Russia demonstrates its inferiority toward strong countries," state-run Global Times said in an editorial.

"China cannot repeat what the US and Russia did to Japan. But a lesson is necessary to dispel its contempt toward China", it said.
"Japan depends on the Chinese market more than China does on the Japanese market. A political confrontation will bring insignificant economic damage to China", it added.

The comment is surprising because both countries have strong trade ties with each other. The overall trade touched USD 344 billion last year with Japanese exports to China totalling around USD 161 billion against USD 183 billion worth of China`s exports to Japan.

China depends on Japanese technology on a host of sectors including automobiles whose engines and spare parts come from Japan.
Japan`s FDI in China was to the tune of USD 6.3 billion dollars. The daily also said Japan is unlikely to launch a military attack on China due to nuclear deterrence.

"Of course, Tokyo may remilitarise itself, even with nuclear armaments, encouraged by the US. But that still poses a limited threat to China", it said.

The PLA Daily, the flagship newspaper of China`s armed forces, carried a commentary today protesting against the Japanese government`s "nationalisation" of the Diaoyu islands, vowing "absolutely no concession" on the issue.

Engaging in the illegal trading of China`s sacred territory is "a dangerous move" by the Japanese government and on the wrong track of endangering the bigger interest of China-Japan relations, the article said.

Groups of Chinese protested in front of of the Japanese Embassy expressing their opposition to Japanese government`s move to purchase the Diaoyu Islands.

Some of the protestors held banners with slogans such as "the Diaoyu Islands belong to China," "China`s territorial sovereignty cannot be violated" and "safeguard the Diaoyu Islands."