China has expressed readiness to hold talks with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, which are the subject of a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that his country is ready to talk to Japan over the maritime row if Tokyo declares the islands to be disputed.
Wang also blamed Japan for the rising tensions between the two countries as Tokyo on September 11, 2012 signed a deal to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.
“In spite of this, we are still ready to sit down and have a dialogue with the Japanese to work out jointly a way to manage the current situation,” Wang said.
“But first, Japan needs to recognize that there is such a dispute. The whole world knows that there is a dispute,” the minister added.
Wang further said that he believed there would be a day when “the Japanese come back to the table of dialogue.”
Japan has long been engaged in a dispute with China over the sovereignty of the uninhabited islands, known as the Senkakus in Japanese and as the Diaoyus in Chinese.
On Thursday, Japan’s coast guard said that two Chinese ships entered waters around the disputed islands.
The islands are located near a crucial shipping lane and give the owner exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.
In late April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo would “expel by force” any Chinese individuals landing on the islands, following an incident during which eight Chinese vessels entered the disputed waters.