China investigates Japan flag-snatching report: Xinhua

BEIJING Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:27pm EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities are "seriously" investigating reports that a national flag on the Japanese ambassador's car was ripped off in Beijing on Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said, amid a territorial row over disputed islands.

"The Chinese government always conscientiously fulfills the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect the safety of foreign embassies and personnel," Xinhua, citing the Foreign Ministry, said in an overnight report.

With tensions flaring over a territorial row that provoked the worst anti-Japanese protests in years, a man ripped the flag from a car carrying Japan's ambassador in Beijing on Monday, triggering a protest from Tokyo.

The Japanese embassy issued a statement saying the ambassador, Uichiro Niwa, was unhurt in the incident.

Earlier this month, the Japanese coast guard detained Chinese activists who sailed from Hong Kong and landed on the islands. Anti-Japanese demonstrations have taken place in Chinese cities over the past two weekends.

The uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have long been a source of friction between Tokyo and Beijing, with competing territorial claims to the islets and surrounding fishing areas and potentially rich gas deposits.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Paul Tait)

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