China has come down heavily on Japan for its "unlawful purchase" of the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, saying that it will affect bilateral economic and trade relations.
Japan's "unlawful purchase" of the islands, which China calls Diaoyu Islands, will certainly affect and damage the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries, China's Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.
"It is not what we wish to see, for which Japan should take full responsibility," Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said at a regular press conference in Beijing.
The Diaoyu Islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. Historical documents showed that the islands appeared on China's map since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), more than 400 years before Japan claimed discovery of the islands in 1884, Shen said.
"The farce of buying the Diaoyu Islands seriously violates China's territorial sovereignty and severely hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, which have aroused strong indignation and opposition across the nation," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Protests against Japan's "purchase" of the islands have been seen across China over the past few days. Many Japanese enterprises have suspended production as agitated Chinese people staged protests to boycott Japanese goods.
Shen voiced support to "rational patriotic activities," saying that the Ministry will firmly oppose illegal behaviors involving smashing and looting during protests. Legitimate interests of foreign companies are under the protection of Chinese laws, he said, adding that foreign companies should seek help from local authorities when encountering offenses.
The dispute over the islands has already cast a shadow over China-Japan trade, as trips to Japan were largely canceled at Chinese travel agencies. Sales of Japanese products, especially automobiles and electronics, have dropped sharply in China during the past month.
China ranks as Japan's largest trading partner, with the latter being China's fourth largest. Trade between the two countries accounts for about 20 percent of Japan's total foreign trade, the report said.
Several Japanese companies have suspended their operations in China in the wake of anti-Japan protests spreading to more Chinese cities over the sensitive issue.
The Japanese government announced last Tuesday that it purchased three of the islands for 2.05 billion yen (about $26 million) from Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara who claims to own the uninhabited, but resource-rich islands.
by RTT Staff Writer
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