China suspended high-level exchanges with Japan on Sunday and promised tough countermeasures after a Japanese court extended the detention of a Chinese captain whose trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard ships.
The spat between Asia’s two largest economies has flared since Japan arrested the captain, accusing him of deliberately striking a patrol ship and obstructing public officers near uninhabited islets in the East China Sea claimed by both sides.
“China demands that Japan immediately release the captain without any preconditions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on the ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn), repeating that Beijing viewed the detention as illegal and invalid.
“If Japan acts wilfully despite advice to the contrary and insists on making one mistake after another, the Chinese side will take strong countermeasures, and all the consequences should be borne by the Japanese side,” Ma said.
Japan’s decision has “seriously damaged Sino-Japan bilateral exchanges”, Chinese state television added, reading out a separate response from the Foreign Ministry.
China has suspended ministerial and provincial-level bilateral exchanges with Japan, halted talks on increasing flights between the two countries and postponed a meeting about coal with Japan, the report said.