China’s leader says he won’t al­low dam­age to sovereignty, se­cu­rity

Com­ments un­der­score dis­pute with Ja­pan


BEI­JING • China will never com­pro­mise on its sovereignty, se­cu­rity or devel­op­ment in­ter­ests, its leader said Tues­day, ex­press­ing a firm line on for­eign af­fairs amid ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with Ja­pan and other neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Xi Jin­ping told mem­bers of the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party’s Polit­buro that China would stick to its pol­icy of peace­ful devel­op­ment but would never sac­ri­fice its le­git­i­mate rights or ba­sic in­ter­ests.

“No for­eign coun­try should ex­pect us to make a deal on our core in­ter­ests and hope we will swal­low the bit­ter pill that will dam­age our sovereignty, se­cu­rity and devel­op­ment in­ter­ests,” Xi told the 25-mem­ber body in re­marks car­ried promi­nently on state tele­vi­sion’s evening news broad­cast.

Xi’s com­ments re­flect ob­servers’ views that the son of one of the Com­mu­nist state’s found­ing fa­thers would take a rel­a­tively tough stand in for­eign af­fairs in keep­ing with China’s re­cent as­sertive­ness in its ter­ri­to­rial claims.

It comes dur­ing a con­flict with Ja­pan that has seen Bei­jing rou­tinely send ships to con­front Tokyo’s coast guard in wa­ters sur­round­ing is­lands both claim in the East China Sea. The stand­off over the un­in­hab­ited group, known as Senkaku in Ja­pan and Diaoyu in China, has threat­ened to spark a clash, ei­ther by ac­ci­dent or in­ten­tion­ally, and both sides have urged talks to man­age the dis­pute with­out back­ing down on their claims to own the is­lands.

In the high­est-level con­tact be­tween the sides since ten­sions over the is­lands spiked in Septem­ber, Xi met last week with an en­voy of Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and ac­cepted a cor­dial let­ter from the Ja­panese leader.

The two men also dis­cussed a pos­si­ble sum­mit be­tween Xi and Abe and ap­peared to dial back some of the in­ten­sity of the dis­pute. In Ja­pan, Abe told a tele­vi­sion talk show on Tues­day that he would be will­ing to meet with Xi to help mend ties, but that Ja­pan would not ne­go­ti­ate over own­er­ship of the is­lands.

Ten­sions soared af­ter Ja­pan’s government bought the is­lands from their pri­vate Ja­panese own­ers in Septem­ber, spark­ing anti-Ja­panese ri­ot­ing in Chi­nese cities and send­ing trade and tourism into a tail­spin.

Tokyo says it is clear the is­lands be­long to Ja­pan.

The is­lands are sur­rounded by rich fish­ing grounds and po­ten­tial gas, oil and other un­der­sea de­posits.


Com­mu­nist Party of China leader Xi Jin­ping says the coun­try won’t sac­ri­fice its ba­sic in­ter­ests.

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