Chinese authorities moved to break up anti-Japan protests outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Wednesday as a territorial row rumbles on.
The demonstrations follow yesterday’s anniversary of Japan’s 1931 occupation of its neighbour.
In a joint press conference with his American counterpart Leon Panetta, Chinese Defence Minister
Liang Guanglie insisted the island chain belongs to China.
“I want to make it clear that the Diayou islands have been China’s inherent territory since ancient times. We have sufficient historical and legal evidence to support this,” he said.
The islands in the East China Sea are known as Senkaku in Japan.
They are prized by both countries as they are close to maritime oil and gas fields, while their waters are rich in fishing stocks.
Around 1,000 Chinese fishing boats have headed to the area, according to media reports in both countries.