The Chinese government has become increasingly strident in its tone toward Japan in a territorial dispute over a small group of islands in the East China Sea, warning that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies could "lead the Japanese people into an abyss of disasters."
Beijing insists that Japan acknowledge the existence of a territorial dispute over what it calls the Diaoyu Islands. Tokyo, which took over the islands in the late 19th century, calls them the Senkaku Islands and says Beijing has no legitimate claim to them.
Abe, campaigning hard in the stretch run for the July 21 parliamentary elections for the Upper House, said Beijing was demanding a Japanese admission that the islands are disputed before holding any Sino-Japanese summit.
Abe dismissed that demand Sunday, objecting to any effort to halt a summit meeting “because certain conditions are not met,” the Christian Science Monitor reported
China was angered by the publication Tuesday of Japan’s annual Defense White Paper, which warns that Beijing was engaging in “dangerous actions” around the islands and sought to change the regional status quo “by force.”
China has been sending marine surveillance vessels into Japanese territorial waters - which Beijing claims as its own - and flying planes near the islands, forcing the Japanese air force to repeatedly scramble its jets.
Chinese analysts speculated that if Abe’s ruling coalition wins this month’s parliamentary elections, he will take a more hawkish approach to foreign affairs and allow Japanese military forces a wider range of action.
That would be “playing with fire,” the official news agency Xinhua warned last week, and could “lead the Japanese people into an abyss of disasters.”
Another official Chinese media outlet, the Global Times, warned that Japanese actions were turning “historical disputes” into “strategic hostility.”
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