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China seen snubbing Japan for fleet review in Qingdao

KYODO

The Chinese Navy has not extended an invitation to the Maritime Self-Defense Force to take part in an international fleet review China will host late next month, a senior Japanese defense official said Sunday.

Beijing is believed to be intentionally excluding Japan from the event, which will involve ships from various nations in the Asia-Pacific region, because of the ongoing tensions over the Senkaku Islands, which China and Taiwan also claim, the official said.

Around the same time the international fleet review is being held in the coastal city of Qingdao, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, a gathering of top navy and marine officials from more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific, will also be held in the city.

Japan is scheduled to take part in the symposium by sending MSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, the official said.

A source close to the ministry said the United States has expressed its displeasure to China for snubbing Japan and told China that it may not send any ships to the international fleet review.

Japan protested at a preliminary meeting for the symposium, which was held in mid-January in Nanjing, that it was disrespectful not to invite it to an international event, but China refused to do so anyway, saying the symposium and the international fleet review are two separate matters.

Tokyo and Beijing remain at odds over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, which have long been controlled by Japan and are believed to be near rich energy and other deposits.