China will 'never yield an inch' on disputed isles: PM
BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday that Beijing would "never yield an inch" in its territorial dispute with Japan over a group of islands, after Tokyo said it was going to purchase the territory.
"The Diaoyu Islands are an inherent part of China's territory. On issues concerning sovereignty and territory, the Chinese government and people will never ever yield an inch," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr Wen as saying.
Mr Wen was speaking after Japan announced it will nationalise the group of islands known as Senkaku in Japanese as Tokyo tries both to appease nationalists and keep Beijing onside.
Following the announcement Beijing summoned Japan's ambassador to China to express "strong protest" over the move, China's foreign ministry said in a statement.
In a deal reported to be worth 2.05 billion yen (S$32.3 million) Premier Yoshihiko Noda's administration agreed to buy three islands it already administers, which China claims as its own.
"During the ministerial meeting today, we agreed that we will obtain the ownership of the three Senkaku islands as quickly as possible," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters.
The decision to purchase the islands, which will be formally owned by Japan's Coast Guard, was aimed at their "quiet and stable maintenance", he added.
Mr Noda has been somewhat bounced into the deal by Shintaro Ishihara, the outspoken right wing governor of Tokyo, who said he wanted them developed to protect Japanese sovereignty.
China has repeatedly reiterated its sovereignty over the islands since reports emerged that the Japanese government was going to buy the chain from their private landowners.