Chinese, Japanese officials meet amid dispute
BEIJING (AP) -- Rival claims to a group of tiny islands will be the focus of talks Tuesday between Chinese and Japanese officials, testing whether the countries can summon the political will to put the rancor behind them.
The Japanese government's claim to own the East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which it reinforced with a purchase from private owners this month, has sparked sometimes violent protests in China and informal boycotts of Japanese products.
The meeting between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai will focus on relations between the countries.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news conference Monday that Kawai was visiting at Japan's request. "China will urge Japan to correct their mistakes and make efforts in improving ties," he said.
China has dispatched government marine monitoring vessels to patrol around the Japan-administered islands.
Taiwan also claims the islands and has registered a formal protest over Japan's purchase. On Monday, several dozen Taiwanese fishing boats set out for the islands from the east coast port of Suao in what was being termed an apolitical protest to protect access to traditional fishing grounds.