China protests Japanese visit to disputed islands
Beijing: China on Saturday denounced a visit by two Japanese local lawmakers to disputed islands in the East China Sea at the heart of a territorial row between the two Asian powers.
The chain of isles, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, has been an integral part of China since ancient times, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.
"The misdeed by the two local Japanese representatives violates China's territorial integrity," she said in the statement on the ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn). "China has made a solemn representation and a strong protest to Japan."
The lawmakers, who went to the islands by boat on Friday, are members of the Ishigaki city council in Okinawa, Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV said. Ishigaki city is, according to Japan, responsible for the administration of the uninhabited isles.
Japan's policy is not to allow anyone to land on the islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told reporters on Friday, adding that the coast guard was looking into it.
Ties between Asia's two biggest economies chilled in September after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with Japanese patrol vessels near the isles, which are close to potentially vast oil and gas reserves.