China says no room for compromise with Japan on history, territory

BEIJING Sat Mar 8, 2014 8:58am EST

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks during a news conference as part of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing March 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks during a news conference as part of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing March 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Saturday that there was no room for compromise with Japan on questions of history and disputed territory, "each inch" of which it would defend from its Asian neighbor.

China's ties with Japan have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during World War Two.

Beijing's anger over the past is never far from the surface, and relations have deteriorated sharply over the past 18 months because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

"On the two issues of principle, history and territory, there is no room for compromise," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters on the sidelines of China's annual parliament.

"Only by making a clean break with the past and stop going back on one's own words can the relationship emerge from the current impasse and have a future," Wang said, reiterating China's oft-stated stance.

Ships from both countries shadow each other around the disputed islets, called the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan. Tokyo has scrambled jets numerous times in response to Chinese aircraft, raising fears of a clash.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan needs a stronger military to cope with what he calls an increasingly threatening security environment, with a more militarily assertive China and unpredictable North Korea.

Ties between the two Asian rivals worsened when Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, which China sees as a symbol of Japan's past militarism because it honors wartime leaders along with millions of war dead.

China has increasingly contrasted Germany and its public remorse for the Nazi regime to Japan, where repeated official apologies for wartime suffering are sometimes undercut by contradictory comments by conservative politicians.

Three diplomatic sources told Reuters last month that China wanted to make the war a focus of President Xi Jinping's trip to Germany later this month, much to Berlin's discomfort, as Beijing tries to use German atonement for its wartime past to embarrass Japan.

"I want to emphasize that instead of using Germany before the First World War as an object lesson, why not use Germany after the Second World War as a role model?" Wang said.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (11)
UauS wrote:
Looks like China is getting ready for it’s own “Ukraine”.

Mar 08, 2014 12:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
Bakhtin wrote:
China is a threat to peace in SEA, and their refusal to compromise – our way or nothing – highlights it.

Mar 08, 2014 12:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
It would seem China is taking its cue from Russia’s handling of Ukraine: We’ll do what ever we feel like doing and no one is going to stop us. Looks like “peace on earth and good will toward men” is in the toilet and the world is becoming very unpredictable. And here we are so worried about global warming while the governments of the world on the brink of solving the overpopulation crisis by means of global war. I hope the U.S. has our missile defense system perfected and all our nuke pointed in the right direction because the tension aroung the globe is greater than I can ever remember and growing worse by the minute.

Mar 08, 2014 1:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
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