China has denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments to a U.S. newspaper saying that China had a “deeply ingrained” need to challenge its neighbors in territorial disputes, state-run media said on Friday. Abe, who is visiting the United States for talks with President Barack Obama, stated in an interview with the Washington Post that Beijing uses disputes with Japan and others to gain its domestic public support.
In the interview that was published on Thursday, Abe also said that China‘s confrontational stance risked eventually harming its economy and scaring off foreign investors. Tensions between the Japan and China have escalated over the past few weeks, as both claim sovereignty over a group of small islands in the East China Sea that the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the Japanese refer to as the Senkakus. Beijing has reacted strongly to the interview comments, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei saying that Chinese officials were “shocked”, this according to the state-run Global Times newspaper. “It is rare that a country’s leader would brazenly distort facts, attack its neighbor and instigate confrontation among countries in the region,” the newspaper quoted Hong as saying. China was demanding a clarification and explanation over the comments, he added.
Japan administers the uninhabited islands, though China and Taiwan are also claiming them. The dispute has simmered for decades but tensions spiked last year after the Japan nationalized islets in the chain. Earlier this month, Tokyo accused a Chinese frigate of locking its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in what it alleged as a dangerous escalation. Beijing has repeatedly denied the charge. Abe is due to meet President Obama on Friday. Japan and the United States have a security treaty in place and the U.S. currently stations some 47,000 troops in Japan.[ via Asia One ]