BEIJING  - China postponed Sunday a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Japan because of an ongoing territorial dispute, the Xinhua news agency said.
“Due to the current situation, the Chinese side has decided that the reception commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations will be postponed until an appropriate time,” Xinhua quoted an official as saying.
The unnamed official from the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries was referring to the ongoing row centring on the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by Beijing under the name Diaoyu. The ceremony was due to take place on Thursday.
Asia’s two largest economies have wrangled about the islands since the 1970s, but the row flared in August after pro-China activists landed on one of them. Tensions escalated dramatically after the Japanese government subsequently bought three of them from their private owners.
The Chinese friendship association has a close relationship with China’s foreign ministry. Officials at the ministry refused to immediately confirm the postponement when contacted by AFP.
A diplomat in Tokyo who declined to be named confirmed Beijing’s decision, telling AFP without elaborating: “China informed the Japanese side” about the postponement.
The escalating row saw hundreds of Japanese rally Saturday against Beijing’s handling of the issue, days after anti-Japanese protests saw shops and factories vandalised in China .
Some 800 demonstrators waved national flags as they marched through downtown Tokyo, denouncing Beijing as a “brute state” and “fascist”.
Whereas, China’s first aircraft carrier was handed over Sunday to the navy of the People’s Liberation Army, state press said, amid rising tensions over disputed waters in the East and South China Seas.
The handover ceremony of the 300-metre (990-foot) ship, a former Soviet carrier called the Varyag, took place in northeast China’s port of Dalian after a lengthy refitting by a Chinese shipbuilder, the Global Times reported.
During the handover ceremony the aircraft carrier raised the Chinese national flag on its mast, the PLA flag on its bow and the navy’s colours on its stern, the short online report said. A ceremony to place the ship into active service would be held sometime in the future, the paper said without elaboration. China’s defence ministry was unavailable to comment on the ceremony.