China probes four Japanese amid bitter diplomatic row

China began "investigation" against four Japanese nationals for allegedly entering a defence zone without authorisation and video taping "military targets".

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2010, 23:51 PM IST

Beijing: China began "investigation"
against four Japanese nationals on Thursday for allegedly entering a
defence zone without authorisation and video taping "military
targets", amid a diplomatic row over Tokyo`s detention of a
Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters.

"Four Japanese who entered military zone without
authorisation and illegally videotaped military targets in
northern Hebei Province were being investigated," state-run
Xinhua news agency quoted state security officials as saying.
The security authorities in Shijiazhuang, capital of
Hebei, have taken measures against the four people according
to law after receiving a report about their illegal
activities, the report said.

"Currently, the case is being investigated," the state
security authorities in Shijiazhuang said in a statement
without providing any details about the case.

The investigations against the Japanese came as China
today rejected Japanese offer of high-level talks to resolve
the stand-off over the detention of skipper of the Chinese
fishing trawler off disputed Diaoyu Islands, demanding that he
be released immediately and unconditionally.

The disputed islands are known as Senkaku in Japan and
Diaoyu in China.

Reacting to the offer of high-level talks by a top
Japanese official to resolve the issue, Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Japan should
unconditionally release the Chinese trawler captain illegally
being detained to avoid further damage to the bilateral ties.

"It is futile to play tricks by deceiving the world
and international public opinion," she said in a statement in
response to offer of high-level talks.

Japan`s move to detain the skipper has aroused strong
indignation among the Chinese people, she said.

"It is a severe violation and flagrant challenge of
China`s territorial sovereignty for Japan to illegally detain
Chinese fishermen and ships in the waters off the Diaoyu
Islands and insist on performing a so-called domestic
judicial process involving the Chinese captain," she said.

The Japanese offer of talks came yesterday after
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao gave a warning of sorts, demanding
that the skipper be unconditionally released or face "further
actions".

"I strongly urge the Japanese side to release the
skipper immediately and unconditionally," Wen said on his
arrival in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session.
"If Japan clings to its mistake, China will take
further actions, and the Japanese side shall bear all the
consequences that arise," he warned.

In her statement Jiang said Diaoyu Islands have been
China`s inherent territory since ancient times.

"It is all too natural for China to make a necessary
response. Japan`s sophistry is untenable," the Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman said.

By illegally detaining Chinese fishermen and their
vessel and then taking provocative actions, Japan has severely
violated the principles of resolving problems through
dialogue and consultations as laid down in the fourth
China-Japan political document as well as the spirit of the
China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefits, she
said.

"If Japan really values bilateral ties, it should
immediately correct its mistake and unconditionally let the
captain return to avoid further damaging relations," she
underlined.

The skipper of the Chinese trawler was detained by the
Japanese Coast Guard vessels, (JCG) on September 7 after it
collided with JCS.

His detention has been extended till September 29,
ignoring China?s repeated assertions that the he should be
unconditionally be released.

The Japanese government released the 14 member crew
and the trawler and charged the captain with the violation of
Japanese law.

PTI