Senkakus dispute causes China to want Summit postponement

The ongoing feud over who has sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku Islands in southeastern Okinawa Prefecture has caused China to demand that a trilateral summit slated for later this spring be postponed.

China, furious over being challenged over its claim to the five islets, has called for the late May summit between Japan, China and South Korea be postponed while the issue plays out over whether Japan really controls the deserted islets in the East China Sea.  The annual meeting is to be chaired by South Korea in Seoul.

South Korea has urged China to drop the demand, but Beijing has refused.  Sources say it’s possible the summit will not be held until June or later.  Beijing’s move has surprised some observers, because it had appeared Sino-Japanese ties that had gone amok over the Senkaku dispute were settling down.  Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is even now arranging a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China later in the month.

China’s abrupt action suggests Beijing may be thinking it is far too soon for the leaders of China and Japan to meet face to face.  Tensions are still high  over the Japan-controlled islets, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.  China refused to even make the appeal directly, instead sending the message to Japan through the South Korean government.  It was South Korea’s idea to have the summit on May 25th and 26th, a thought that led to being rebuffed by Beijing.

Chinese Ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, last month inserted himself into the fray, taking a cautious stance on a summit with Japan, saying “It would not be good for the top leaders to get into a fight as soon as they meet.” The three-way summit has been held once a year since 2008, with the host country rotating every year.