Protests over disputed islands continue in China

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(APTN)

Chinese protesters angry at Japan’s purchase of several disputed islands in the East China Sea held another demonstration outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing on Thursday.

Groups of about 50 people rotated at 30 minute intervals to chant angry slogans at the gates of the embassy. Police deployed more security in the area.

Protesters displayed banners reading “Japanese get out of the Diaoyu islands” and many of them called for a Chinese boycott of Japanese products.

Tensions remained high between China and Japan over Tokyo’s formal purchase of the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

China’s Vice Minister of Commerce told a news conference in Beijing that the flare-up is likely to harm trade between the two countries.

“With Japan’s so-called purchase of the islands, it will be hard to avoid negative consequences for Sino-Japanese economic and trade ties,” said Jiang Zengwei at the briefing, shown live on state television.

Answering reporters’ questions, Jiang said that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands.

The rocky outcroppings have been the focus of recurring spats between the two countries and also are claimed by Taiwan.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration purchased the islands after the stridently nationalistic governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, announced a plan in April to buy the islands from their Japanese owners and then develop them to ensure that they would never be sold to China.

The prospect of construction on the islands – and boatloads of activists landing on their shores – would be sure to upset China, so Japan’s central government stepped in on Tuesday to buy the islands for 2.05 (b) billion yen (26 (m) million US dollars).

It has no plans to develop them.

Beijing’s response was swift and strong, calling the purchase “null and void” and threatening “serious consequences.”

China sent two patrol ships to waters near the islands, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, although Japanese coast guard officials said no Chinese ships had been sighted within 24 miles (38 kilometres) of the islands as of Wednesday afternoon.

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