Chinese media on Monday warned Japan it risked intensified reprisals over a sea dispute and claimed that many back military force to settle a long feud over islands between Asia's two biggest economies.
China's government on Sunday suspended high-level exchanges and threatened more steps after a Japanese court extended to Sept. 29 the detention of Zhan Qixiong, whose fishing boat early this month collided with two Japanese coast guard ships near islets claimed by both sides.
"China should have a set of plans in place to further sanction Japan, fighting a diplomatic battle with Japan of successive retaliation," said an editorial in the Global Times, a popular tabloid that focuses on international news.
The newspaper also ran an online poll which it said showed 96 percent of respondents backed armed force to settle the dispute over the islets, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.
"There must be a war between China and Japan. China must cleanse its past shame," said one comment on the poll on the newspaper's website (www.huanqiu.com).
A war of words
Though emotions are running high in China over the issue, analysts say there are no signs of it turning into a military conflict.
But the angry rhetoric, including calls for a boycott of Japanese goods, does mark a setback for efforts by both sides to ease distrust over wartime memories and each other's militaries and rival claims in the East China Sea.
China's national youth association has postponed a plan to host 1,000 Japanese youths in Shanghai this week, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
"The worst situation could be a worsening of political ties, such as cancelled meetings between top leaders. But I do not think there will be a direct impact on bilateral trade. The two economies are too closely connected," said Chen Qi, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing who studies regional relations.
"I think it will be more or less a war of words, and everything will remain under control," Chen added.
Bilateral trade reached 12.6 trillion yen ($146.8 billion) in the first half, a jump of 34.5 percent over the same time last year, according to Japanese statistics.
On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu repeated his government's demand that Japan immediately release Zhan, the captain, and said Tokyo would face greater pressure if it did not. Japan urged China to stay calm over the issue.
China has already called off meetings with Japanese officials, including planned talks over disputed gas fields in the East China Sea. More snubs may follow.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will both attend the U.N. General Assembly meetings this week in New York but will probably not meet.
In November, Chinese President Hu Jintao is due to visit Japan for the APEC regional summit. In the past, Hu has attended such regional meetings even when bilateral ties have been frosty.
Beijing appears set against allowing a repeat of the sometimes violent protests that broke out against Japan in 2005.
Protests in Chinese cities over the weekend were small and tightly watched by police. On Monday, the Japanese embassy in Beijing remained under heavy security.
"The Chinese government will have to work on guiding and containing public opinion if the boat captain is not released soon," said Sun Cheng, a professor of Chinese-Japanese relations at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.
"This case will have some reverberations because it's exposed big problems that both sides have tended to avoid confronting." ($1=85.84 Yen)
Related news reports:Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2010, 14:34