Chinese premier urges Japan to release Chinese skipper immediately, unconditionally
2010/09/22

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Amid tensions over Japan's illegal detention of a Chinese skipper, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has demanded Japan swiftly release the man while Tokyo proposed high-level talks on the issue.

"I strongly urge the Japanese side to release the skipper immediately and unconditionally," Wen said Tuesday after arriving here for a three-day visit.

"If Japan clings to its mistake, China will take further actions and the Japanese side shall bear all the consequences that arise," Wen said during a meeting with representatives of Chinese nationals and Chinese Americans in New York.

Wen also said China-Japan relations had witnessed improvement and development thanks to years of efforts by both sides.

The good momentum had now suffered severe damage and Japan was solely responsible, he said.

The Chinese premier urged the Japanese government to swiftly correct its mistake to bring bilateral ties back on track.

In Tokyo, at a regular press conference on Wednesday, Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshito Sengoku called for high-level talks with China to ease the row.

"We hope Japan and China will hold high-level talks as soon as possible to ease the diplomatic row," Sengoku said.

On the previous day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokswoman Jiang Yu made it clear that the time was not proper for a meeting between the Chinese Premier and Japanese leaders at UN conferences in New York this week, saying that it is Japan who holds the key to solving the problem.

"The Japanese side should correctly understand the situation and return the captain immediately and unconditionally," Jiang said.

On Sept. 7, two Japan Coast Guard patrol ships and a Chinese trawler collided off China's Diaoyu Islands. On the following day, the Japan Coast Guard illegally seized the Chinese trawler and illegally detained the trawler's captain and 14 fishermen on board, drawing strong protests from the Chinese government and people.

The fishermen were released last week, but the captain is still being illegally held by Japanese authorities. Despite China's repeated call for the immediate release of the captain, a Japanese court on Sunday authorized prosecutors to extend the illegal detention of the Chinese man by 10 days to Sept. 29.

"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," Jiang said.

She reaffirmed that China would not waiver on issues relating to its territory and sovereignty.

The Diaoyu Islands have been part of China's territory since ancient times. Japan's decision to prolong its illegal detention of the Chinese trawler captain has kept the dispute over Diaoyu Islands under spotlight, as such a defiance against facts and international norms continued to draw strong protests from the Chinese government and people.

 

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