• Kyodo

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A plant to donate two Chinese crested ibises to Japan has been thrown in doubt by Beijing’s reluctance to formalize the deal amid the growing territorial spat over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, bilateral sources said Monday.

Tokyo hoped to sign a memorandum on the deal at an early date to get the ibises by October after several procedures, including a quarantine to prevent bird flu, given that breeding between related birds lowers resistance.

The new birds were to be acquired in time for the spring breeding season, but anti-Japan sentiment has grown since Japan moved to nationalize the islets, which China refers to as Diaoyu.

Earlier this month, Japan arrested and deported Chinese activists for landing on one of the Senkaku islets, fueling weekend rallies in major Chinese cities aimed at asserting Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over the islets.

Given these developments, the Chinese side has determined it would stir a public backlash if China were to donate ibises to Japan in the current climate, diplomatic sources said.

The donation plan was revealed when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in China last December.

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