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Beijing urges cross-strait ties to dispute Japan's Diaoyutais claim

BEIJING -- A Chinese official on Wednesday called on Taipei to join hands with Beijing against Japan on the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands.

The island group, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and Senkaku Islands in Japan, “has been an inherent part of China's territory since ancient times,” Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a news briefing.

He said the provocative actions taken by Japan on the issue have escalated conflicts and undermined peace in the region.

He stressed that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have the responsibility to uphold “the integrity of China's sovereignty and territory” and that they should be “of one mind” and work with each other to safeguard the interest of ethnic Chinese.

He was responding to recent remarks by Republic of China (Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou, who reiterated the R.O.C.'s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and accused Japan of stealthily occupying the island group 119 years ago.

Despite the harsh rhetoric, however, Taiwan has rejected feelers by China to team up against Japan in the dispute, preferring to follow its own path in staking its territorial claim and to attempt to resolve related issues, such as fishing rights, with Tokyo on a bilateral basis.

President Ma has also sought to ease tensions over the territorial issue by putting forth an “East China Sea Peace Initiative,” which calls for the concerned parties to put aside the sovereignty dispute and cooperate on resource development in the region.

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