Japan still to blame, China says after ship video leak

A YouTube clip appears to show a Chinese boat colliding with a Japanese boat.

Beijing: China has again put the blame on Japan for a maritime incident two months ago that sparked the worst row between the Asian powers in years, after the leak of a video apparently showing the collision.

The Japanese coastguard arrested a Chinese trawler captain in early September for allegedly ramming two of its patrol boats near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea, sparking a barrage of protests from Beijing.

The incident was sensitive because both sides claim the potentially resource-rich islets, known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan, along with the nearby seas where the incidents took place.

"I would like to reiterate that the Japanese side had disturbed, driven away, intercepted and surrounded the Chinese fishing boat, which led to the collision," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.

"The behaviour of the Japanese side was illegal," Hong said, when asked to comment on the leaked video.

"The so-called video cannot change the fact and cannot conceal the unlawfulness of the Japanese action," the spokesman added.

Early on Friday, 44 minutes of footage purporting to show the incident were posted on the YouTube video-sharing website, sending officials in Tokyo scrambling to contain the damage, a week before Japan hosts an Asia-Pacific summit.

The YouTube clip appears to show the blue Chinese boat, marked the Minjinyu 5179, colliding with a grey-hulled Japanese boat as a plume of black smoke is seen billowing from the patrol ship.

Japanese television stations showed the clips throughout the day, assuming them to be authentic, although no officials have confirmed this on the record.

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told a media briefing: "I think it probably was taken by the coastguard. That is how I feel after seeing the footage."

He said the Chinese embassy in Tokyo had called Japan`s Foreign Ministry to enquire about the leak, and that China later had "expressed concern and conveyed worry in Tokyo and Beijing through diplomatic channels".


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