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BEIJING (Kyodo) China urged Japan on Monday to employ “credible steps” to prevent the recurrence of maritime incidents around the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea like the one last year that evolved into a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

“This issue is highly sensitive and it must be handled very carefully,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said, indicating the two sides should make joint efforts to ensure that one single issue will not undermine overall interests in their “strategic relationship of mutual benefit.”

“We have repeatedly asked the Japanese side to take credible steps to prevent a recurrence of what happened last year so as to uphold the larger interest of China-Japan relations,” Yang told a news conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.

However, Yang indicated Beijing will not compromise over the Senkaku Islands, which it also claims and calls the Diaoyu, saying China’s position on the issue is “consistent and clear-cut.”

Bilateral ties saw a sharp deterioration last year after the Japan Coast Guard arrested a Chinese trawler captain following collisions with two of its cutters trying to shoo it away from the islands last September. The islets are administered by Japan but claimed by China.

Asked about Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara’s resignation Sunday, Yang said he wants to build a “sound working relationship” with Maehara’s successor.

“No matter who will succeed him, I’m ready to maintain a sound working relationship with the Japanese foreign minister,” he said.

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