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Chinese foreign minister hits back at Japanese PM over WWI analogy

DAVOS, Switzerland -- China has hit back at Japan's Prime Minister over a claim that current tensions in East Asia are akin to those between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed the analogy employed by Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was misplaced.

In the latest salvo in a simmering diplomatic spat, Wang also reiterated China's anger over Abe's recent visit to a shrine which honors the memory of 14 convicted war criminals along with millions of other Japanese war dead.

“It strikes me that his statement is a bit anachronistic because the current era is a world apart from the situation of 100 years ago,” Wang told the annual gathering of business and political leaders.

“The forces for peace in the world, and they include China, are growing.”

Wang said a more relevant history lesson would involve recalling Japan's record of military aggression against China and other Asian states.

“Reviewing these episodes of history would clearly show who was the instigator of war and the troublemaker,” the foreign minister said.

Wang said Beijing regarded Abe's December visit to the shrine as the biggest problem in the bilateral relationship, describing it as a memorial that glorifies militarism, justifies past aggressions and honors the 14 military and public officials who were either executed or died in prison after being convicted as Class A war criminals at the end of World War II.

“When a Japanese leader lays a wreath at such a shrine, he crosses a line — he is breaching the conscience of humanity and international justice. He is contesting the outcome of the second world war and the international order that emerged from it.”

War Criminals Were 'like the Nazis': Wang

“The Class A war criminals of Japan were like the Nazis. Could you imagine a European leader could today lay a wreath at a memorial to Nazi war criminals? Would the European people accept such a move? No. And it would be illegal besides.”

Britain and the United States both criticized Abe for visiting the shrine and it also prompted a furious reaction in South Korea.

“China had no choice but to react to the Japanese move,” Wang said. “We have offered negotiations but the Japanese refuse to discuss the island because, in their view, they are not in dispute.

“Let me again make the offer: We should begin to have a bilateral negotiation over the island to establish a crisis management mechanism.”

Before addressing issues related to Japan, Wang had outlined how he sees the Chinese Communist Party's commitment to a new wave of reform leading to the world's most populous nation playing a bigger role on the global stage.

He said China wanted to “shoulder more international responsibilities” by becoming more active in helping to defuse what he termed “hotspot issues” around the world.

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