China official guardedly counsels caution on isle ‘purchase’

Kyodo

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping urged Japan on Tuesday to act “appropriately” in handling issues of “core interest” to China, apparently referring to the simmering bilateral dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Xi made the remarks in a meeting with former House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono, apparently responding to Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s earlier surprise announcement that the metropolitan government plans to buy part of the Senkakus to underline Japan’s sovereignty over the uninhabited islets, which China and Taiwan also claim.

“Our countries should appropriately handle important issues that are of core interest to the other side,” Xi was quoted as telling Kono and members of a Japanese trade delegation.

Ishihara said in a speech in Washington last week that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is negotiating with the Saitama titleholder of three of the Japan-controlled islets to buy them by year’s end.

His comments surprised the government and drew sharp protests from China.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Ishihara’s plan to buy a portion of the disputed islands will not only harm Japan’s ties with China but also its international standing.