By James Griffiths
Protest over Diaoyu Islands takes place in New York, the biggest of its kind on the American east coast.
Chinese state media is reporting that two patrol ships have been sent to the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku island chain to “assert the country’s sovereignty”, after the Japanese government announced on Tuesday that it had signed a contract to buy the islands, outbidding Nanjing-massacre-denying Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara in the process.
Condemnation of the Japanese government’s actions has been swift and damning in the Chinese press, an editorial in the People’s Daily (as translated on Bloomberg) opined:
“A healthy and stable China-Japan relationship is important to China, and also vitally important to Japan […] We urge the Japanese government to understand the situation and pull its horse back from the cliff.”
“Healthy and stable” in this context meaning “doing what China tells you”.
Japan also announced the replacement of its ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, whose car was attacked by a protester last month and had previously been a critic of Ishihara’s sabre-rattling. It is unclear whether Niwa’s replacement is due to his less than vociferous stance on the island’s sovereignty, or whether Tokyo simply wants a more experienced politician handling the issue from now on.
Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated China’s stance on the islands on Monday:
“The Diaoyu islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Chinese government and its people will absolutely make no concession on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Especially when that territory contains lots of gas.