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China-Japan relations sour as fishing boat dispute escalates

China-Japan relations have further deteriorated following China’s decision to cease high-level exchanges with Japan in protest at the extended detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain.

Anti-Japan protesters chant slogans during a rally in Hong Kong on Saturday. China-Japan relations further deteriorated over the weekend after a court in Japan extended the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

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Relations between East Asia’s two leading powers have quickly deteriorated following China’s decision to cease high-level exchanges with Japan in protest at the extended detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain.

Beijing suspended relations between government officials and their Japanese counterparts over the weekend after a court in Japan extended the detention of the captain, Zhan Qixiong, for another 10 days while it considers whether or not to prosecute him. The 14 other members of the crew and their vessel have been released.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that Japan had “seriously damaged Sino-Japan bilateral relations.”

Mr. Zhan was arrested earlier this month after his boat collided with two Japanese coast guard boats in waters near the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. The uninhabited islands are administered by Japan but claimed by China – where they are known as Diaoyu.

Backdrop of mounting concern

Japan’s investigation into the collision is taking place against a backdrop of mounting concern in Tokyo over China’s military spending and its aggressive drive to secure new energy sources in disputed waters.

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