|Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (R) hosts a welcoming ceremony for U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 18, 2012. Liang Guanglie held talks with Leon Panetta in Beijing on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)|
Military leaders meet Panetta and urge Washington not to take sides
China told Japan and the United States on Tuesday that it hopes the Diaoyu Islands issue can be resolved peacefully but Beijing reserves the right to "take further action".
Top military officials made the comments during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The Pentagon chief is visiting China for the first time.
Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, during a joint news briefing with Panetta, said China urged Washington to honor its promise of not taking sides.
Panetta arrived in Beijing on Monday evening following a visit to Japan. His visit to Beijing, including talks with senior military and government leaders, has coincided with an eruption in tension between China and Japan over the islands, which have belonged to China for centuries.
Tokyo said it completed a "purchase" of the islands last week.
The move has sparked protests across China. Analysts said if Washington continues its stance by further encouraging Tokyo's provocations, Panetta's "mediation" will hardly ease the situation.
Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Caihou also told Panetta that China will not "concede half a step" and is "determined and capable" of preserving and protecting its territory and sovereignty.
He warned the international community, including the US, to be alert about emerging right-wing forces in Japan.
Panetta told Xu that Washington will not take sides over the islands and understands China's historical stance.
Washington and Beijing should foster contact and avoid misunderstanding that could spiral into confrontation, he said.
Standing next to Panetta, Liang told reporters that Japan should bear full responsibility for "heating up" the dispute.
"I want to make it clear that the Diaoyu Islands are China's inherent territory, which is evidenced by history and law. Secretary Panetta and I discussed the issue in our talks," Liang said.
He urged Tokyo to "correct its mistakes and come back to the right track of negotiations".
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