BEIJING - China said on Monday (Dec 4) that the proposed name change of the Diaoyu islands by a Japanese mayor would not change the fact that they belong to China, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama of Ishigaki City in the south-western island of Okinawa plans to submit a proposal to the city's Assembly on Monday to change the islands' name from "Tonoshiro, Ishigaki City" to "Tonoshiro Senkaku, Ishigaki City," according to Japanese media, Xinhua said.
The islands, located in the East China Sea and also known as Senkaku in Japan, have been at the centre of a long-running dispute between China and Japan due to their strategic location and are believed to harbour vast natural resources below their seabed.
"The Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have always been an inherent part of Chinese territory, and China has unshakeable will to protect its own sovereignty," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing on Monday, Xinhua reported.
"Whatever tricks Japan plays, it will not change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China," he added.
He urged Japan to "face up to history and reality, stop stirring up trouble on the issue and avoid harming the improvement of bilateral ties".