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Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says Japan “stole” from China a group of islands in the East China Sea, disputed by Beijing and Tokyo.
“China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all activities that violate China’s territorial sovereignty, take concrete actions to correct its mistakes and return to the track of resolving the dispute through negotiation,” Yang said in an address to the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York City on Thursday.
“The moves taken by Japan are totally illegal and invalid. They can in no way change the historical fact that Japan stole Diaoyu and its affiliated islands from China and the fact that China has territorial sovereignty over them.”
On September 11, Tokyo signed a deal to buy three of the islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.
The move has angered the Chinese government and led to several anti-Japan demonstrations in China.
Yang’s remarks came after Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday that Tokyo will not compromise on the territorial dispute with Beijing, adding that the islands “are an integral part of our territory in the light of history and of international law.”
Japan and China have long been in a dispute over the sovereignty of the uninhabited islands, which are located near a crucial shipping lane and would give the owner exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.