CHINESE Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has sparked angry exchanges at the UN by accusing Japan of stealing disputed islands.
The Japanese government's purchase of the uninhabited islands from a private owner this month has infuriated Beijing and set off violent protests in China.
"China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all activities that violate China's territorial sovereignty, take concrete actions to correct its mistakes and return to the track of resolving the dispute through negotiation," Yang told the UN assembly.
He reaffirmed his country's claim that Japan tricked China into signing a treaty ceding the islands in 1895.
Japan says the islands were legally incorporated into its territory.
"The moves taken by Japan are totally illegal and invalid," the Chinese minister said.
"They can in no way change the historical fact that Japan stole Diaoyu and its affiliated islands from China and the fact that China has territorial sovereignty over them."
Japan's move was in "outright denial" of its defeat in World War II, he added, reaffirming China's repeated references to the 1939-45 war.
Yang's speech sparked sharp exchanges between Japanese and Chinese diplomats as each sought a right of reply.
Japan's deputy UN ambassador, Kazuo Kodama, said that "an assertion that Japan took the islands from China cannot logically stand".
Kodama added the references to World War II were "unconvincing and unproductive".
China's UN envoy Li Baodong responded: "The Japanese delegate once again brazenly distorted history, resorting to spurious fallacious arguments that defy all reason and logic to justify their aggression of Chinese territory.
"The Japanese government still clings to its obsolete colonial mindset.
"China is capable of safeguarding the integrity of its territory."
When Kodama responded that the islands "are clearly an inherent territory of Japan", Li returned to the attack.
He said his Japanese counterpart "feels no guilt for Japan's history of aggression and colonialism".
The Japanese government's purchase of the islands was based purely on "the logic of robbers", he stormed.
China has demanded the return of the uninhabited islands, known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku in Japanese, for decades. Taiwan also claims the islands. - AFP/Agencies
A man reads the white paper on the Diaoyu Islands at a bookstore in downtown Beijing on Friday. The white paper, entitled Diaoyu Islands, an Inherent Territory of China, published in Chinese, English and Japanese, hit the market on Friday. It has been issued both at home and abroad to assert China's sovereignty over the island and its affiliated islets. Photo: Guo Yingguang/GT
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accused Japan of stealing the Diaoyu Islands in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York Thursday, urging it to immediately stop infringing on China's territorial sovereignty, correct its mistakes through concrete actions and return to the track of resolving the disputes through negotiation.
Yang used the general debate of the ongoing session of the UN General Assembly to state China's stance over recent rows stirred up by Japan's "nationalization" of the islets.
His remarks came after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's insistence that no territorial issue exists over the islets during a speech on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
"The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets have been an integral part of China's territory since ancient times," Yang said. "China has indisputable historical and legal evidence in this regard."
Yang said Japan stole the islands in 1895 at the end of the Sino-Japanese War and forced the Chinese government to sign an unequal treaty to cede these islands and other Chinese territories.
After World War II, the Diaoyu Islands and other Chinese territories occupied by Japan were returned to China in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and other international documents, he said.
The Chinese Foreign Minister stated that, by taking such unilateral actions as the "island purchase," the Japanese government had grossly violated China's sovereignty.
"This is an outright denial of the outcome of the victory in the global anti-fascist war and poses a grave challenge to the post-war international order and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter," he said.
Yang emphasized that the moves taken by Japan are totally "illegal" and "invalid," which can in no way change the "historical fact" that Japan stole the Diaoyu Islands from China and the fact that China has territorial sovereignty over them.
"The Chinese government is firm in upholding China's territorial sovereignty," he added.
>In a rebuttal session following Yang's speech, Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN, said that "the Japanese government still clings to its old-time colonial mindset," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to Xinhua, Li said Japan's "purchase" of the islands is based purely on "the logic of robbers."
"Its purpose is to legalize the stealing and occupation of the Chinese territory through this illegal means and to confuse international public opinion and deceive the people of the world," Li was quoted by Xinhua.
Zhou Hongjun, a professor with the International Law Faculty at the East China University of Politics and Law, told the Global Times that Japan's denial of any territorial issue is void.
The countermeasures taken by China have put the waters off the Diaoyu Islands under the substantial control of both China and Japan, reversing Japan's "illegal" control of the area in recent years, said Zhou.
"We ought to consolidate and extend our progress," Zhou said.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Yang met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday.
Reuters quoted a senior US State Department official as saying that during the talks, Clinton said it was important to ratchet down the quarrel over the islands that has soured ties between Asia's two largest economies.
"We believe that Japan and China have the resources, have the restraint, and have the ability to work on this directly and take tensions down," the official said.
Separately, the Chinese embassy in Tokyo said in a statement on its website that it received a suspicious envelope on Thursday, and that after an inspection by Japanese police, a rifle bullet was found in the envelope on Friday.
The embassy said that the Japanese police are investigating the incident, and the embassy has demanded Japanese police take concrete measures to protect the safety of Chinese organizations, enterprises and citizens in Japan.
Kyodo reported that the envelope bore the name of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
A spokeswoman at the prime minister's office only said that Noda had not sent the bullet, without elaborating on any action it might take, reported AFP. - Agencies
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