* China-Japan relations rocked by island dispute
* Xinhua report suggests Beijing may want to snub Japan
* State-owned banks will reportedly not attend meeting
BEIJING, Oct 9 China's delegation to the annual
meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Tokyo will not be led
by its most senior finance officials, a report from state news
agency Xinhua said on Tuesday, in what looked like a deliberate
snub of Japan.
According to Chinese protocol, only the most senior
officials usually lead such trips, but the report said China's
deputy central bank governor and vice finance minister would be
leading the central bank's delegation later this week instead.
That would imply that the governor of the People's Bank of
China, Zhou Xiaochuan, and Finance Minister Xie Xuren, will not
attend. China's central bank and finance ministry declined to
comment when asked earlier by Reuters to confirm whether Zhou
and Xie were headed to Tokyo.
If they did stay away, it would be the latest sign that a
territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing is straining ties
between Asia's two biggest economies.
Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply in September
after Japan bought the East China Sea islets that both Tokyo and
Beijing claim, sparking anti-Japanese protests across China.
The disputed group of islands, called Senkaku in Japan and
Diaoyu in China, are located near rich fishing grounds and
potentially huge oil and gas reserves. Taiwan also asserts its
sovereignty over the islets.
Japan is scheduled to host the International Monetary Fund
and World Bank annual meetings for the first time in nearly half
a century. About 20,000 people are expected to attend the event,
making it one of the world's largest international conferences.
The brief Xinhua report said Yi Gang, vice head of the
People's Bank of China, and Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao,
will "lead a delegation to the meeting".
The report did not mention the more senior Zhou and Xie and
did not make it clear whether both officials will still be
attending the meetings. Zhou is scheduled to speak at the IMF
meeting and at a meeting on the sidelines later this week.
A receptionist at the hotel in Tokyo, where Zhou is
scheduled to stay, told Reuters earlier today that Zhou has a
The Xinhua report comes a day after the agency said that
China's state-owned banks will not attend the meetings in Tokyo.
China has sent its patrol ships into what Japan considers
its territorial waters near the disputed islands in recent
weeks, prompting Japan to lodge protests against China.