China finance chiefs to skip key IMF parley in Tokyo

Kyodo

China will not send its finance chiefs to the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Tokyo, a Chinese government official said Wednesday, in another indication of Beijing’s anger over Japan’s handling of a territorial row.

Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren and People’s Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan have decided not to attend the meetings of the Washington-based institutions, drawing top finance leaders from about 180 countries, which started Tuesday, according to the official.

It is rare for China, the world’s second-largest economy, as well as any other country, not to send a ministerial-level representative to annual meetings of the institutions, which are normally held in the U.S. capital.

“If they did not come, it would be very unfortunate, as the Tokyo gatherings are important,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference.

In any event, “we will seek to communicate with China from a broad perspective as economic exchanges between Japan and China are important,” Fujimura added.

IMF Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara said Zhou’s absence has been explained by China as “due to his schedule.”

Shinohara said the IMF was told by a Chinese official Monday that the central banker’s attendance might be canceled.

China’s boycott is widely seen as part of its latest efforts to internationalize the row over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, some Japanese officials said.

The Chinese delegation to the IMF-World Bank meetings is now expected to be led by Yi Gang, a deputy governor of the central bank, and Zhu Guangyao, vice finance minister.

In addition to the finance minister and the nation’s central banker, China’s four giant state-owned banks, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, skipped the Tokyo gatherings.

South Korea, another neighbor engaged in an intense dispute with Japan over a different group of isles called Takeshima here and Dokdo in South Korea, will send its most senior finance officials to Tokyo, with Strategy and Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan scheduled to hold bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart, Koriki Jojima, on Thursday.