• Reuters

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The commander of the Chinese Navy will refuse to meet Japanese military officials at a regional naval symposium in China this week, a navy spokesman was quoted as saying on Sunday, citing what he called hurtful actions by Japanese leaders.

The decision to snub Japanese officials attending the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao on Tuesday and Wednesday comes during a chill in relations between the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 economies, amid a row over a chain of disputed islets in the East China Sea.

In addition to the territorial quarrel, China’s ties with Japan have long been poisoned by what Beijing sees as Tokyo’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during World War II.

On Sunday, Keiji Furuya, head of the National Public Safety Commission, visited Yasukuni Shrine, which critics including the Chinese government see as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime aggression.

The decision not to hold bilateral meetings between Adm. Wu Shengli and Japanese military visitors was made “in view of the wrong words and deeds by the Japanese leaders . . . which have substantially hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and undermined bilateral ties,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Liang Yang, spokesman for the Chinese Navy, as saying.

Liang also said Japan was not invited to participate in multicountry maritime exercises after the symposium because of “wrong actions” taken by the Japanese government that have “seriously harmed the feelings of the Chinese people and undermined the China-Japan bilateral ties.”

“Under the current circumstances, it is not appropriate to invite ships of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force to attend relevant activity to mark the founding of the Chinese Navy,” Xinhua quoted Liang as saying.

Seven ships from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Brunei arrived in Qingdao on Sunday to join Chinese ships in an exercise that includes maritime rescue operations, Xinhua said.

China’s Foreign Ministry lodged a protest with Japan on April 12 after Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War II are honored along with those who died in battle.

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