China criticises Japan's Abe over Crimea remarks
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on March 22, 2014 - by Toru Yamanaka
"The Japanese leader on the one hand made empty calls for improving the relationship with China, on the other hand smearing China on the international stage," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing.
"These remarks this time show that once again what he has done cannot blind the eyes of the international community."
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that Abe told a radio station Thursday that he raised the issue of China's assertiveness at sea and in the air in regional territorial disputes at a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) leaders earlier this week in the Netherlands.
"What's happening in Crimea isn't merely an issue for this region (Europe), but it could happen in Asia," Abe said, according to Kyodo.
"In that sense, it is an issue for the whole of the international community," he said in remarks Kyodo interpreted as appearing to reference China's disputes with Japan and other Asian countries.
Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a dispute over ownership of a group of small uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Japan administers them as the Senkaku Islands, while China claims them and calls them the Diaoyu Islands.
Tensions have risen markedly given the vociferousness of the rival claims, backed up with increased naval and air patrols by both sides, leading to fears of a possible armed clash.
Hong reiterated Beijing's claim to the islands and its position that the tensions are Tokyo's fault.
Hong also stressed that China was committed to defending its "territorial sovereignty" in both the East China Sea and South China Sea.
"At the same time, we are also committed to managing and resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation," he said.
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