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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 08:30 GMT
Japan-China tensions dog talks
A gas drilling rig operated by a Chinese consortium in the East China Sea (July 2004)
Competition for energy resources is heating up
Japan and China have failed to make any progress in their dispute over energy resources in the East China Sea, but have agreed to talk again.

Monday's discussions in Beijing were the first since China cancelled a summit with Japan last month amid increasingly frosty ties.

The two sides also failed on Monday to resolve a row over the suicide of a Japanese diplomat, Kyodo news reported.

Japan and China will hold another meeting late this month or early next.

China again rejected a Japanese proposal that both sides jointly explore gas fields near a disputed maritime border in the East China Sea, a Japanese official told Kyodo news agency.

Tokyo is worried that Chinese operations could tap into reserves Japan claims as its own.

China and Japan's exclusive economic zones (EEZs) overlap
Japan claims EEZ extends 200 nautical miles from its shore, while China claims EEZ extends to edge of its continental shelf
Two countries have never agreed a maritime border
The UN says it will arbitrate by May 2009
Also dispute ownership of Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

"The Chinese side said that it found Japan's proposal problematic," the official said. "Chinese officials said they plan to present a new plan at the next meeting."

The official said the two sides also discussed the suicide in May last year of a man working at the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, but "could not share a view on this topic".

Japanese media reported in December that the man was being blackmailed to provide key intelligence to China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan angrily denounced the allegation over the weekend, telling the state news agency Xinhua: "We feel strongly indignant at the Japanese government's ignorance of the facts and vile action smearing China's image."

China and Japan have been engaged in a number of disputes over the past year, both over oil resources and Japan's attitude to its colonial and wartime history.

China cancelled a bilateral summit last month because of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo which honours convicted war criminals alongside other war dead.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe is quoted as telling Japanese media on Monday that China and South Korea are "wrong" to refuse to meet Mr Koizumi because of his visits to the Yasakuni shrine.

"Diplomacy of the sort where leaders and foreign ministers don't meet, where two parties don't get together when their views are not in alignment, is wrong," the Asahi newspaper quoted Mr Abe as saying.

The Chinese are also angry at Japanese school textbooks, which they say misrepresent history. Last year the row spiralled into violence, with angry crowds in some Chinese cities attacking Japanese buildings.

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