China believes the time is not proper for a meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese leaders at the United Nations (UN) conferences in New York this week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a news briefing Tuesday.
A collision between a Chinese trawler and two Japanese coast guard vessels in waters off the Diaoyu Islands on Sept. 7 has affected China-Japan relations.
The Japanese side illegally seized the Chinese trawler and its fishermen and continues to illegally hold the Chinese captain, despite protests by the Chinese side. Japan has extended the detention of the trawler's captain to Sept. 29.
The incident has severely damaged bilateral relations, Jiang said, adding that to avoid escalating tensions, Japan should return the captain.
"Japan holds the key to solving this problem. The Japanese side should correctly understand the situation and return the captain immediately and unconditionally," Jiang said.
China has warned it will take strong countermeasures if the Japanese side fails to return the Chinese captain immediately and unconditionally.
China has already halted bilateral exchanges at and above the provincial and ministerial levels. It has also suspended contact with Japan on the issue of expanding aviation rights between the two countries.
Jiang reaffirmed that China will not waiver on issues relating to its territory and sovereignty.
"The Chinese trawler was engaged in normal operations in waters off China's Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea when it was chased and badly damaged by the Japanese vessels," she said.
The Diaoyu Islands have been Chinese territory since the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Maps printed in Japan in 1783 and 1785 that marked out the boundary of the Ryukyu Kingdom show that the Diaoyu Islands belonged to China.
Jiang also said China has complete sovereignty and jurisdictional rights over the Chunxiao oil and gas field 450 kilometers southeast of Shanghai, adding that Chinese activities in the area are "reasonable and lawful."
When commenting on the threats faced by Chinese schools in Japan from Japan's right-wing forces, Jiang said: "We are highly concerned about the reports. Japan has a responsibility to take effective measures to protect Chinese institutions and nationals in Japan."