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China distances itself from claim it owns Okinawa
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) June 02, 2013


Uigher meeting in Hungary cancelled after bomb threat
Budapest (AFP) June 02, 2013 - Organisers of a Uighur youth conference in Budapest said Sunday the meeting had been cancelled because of a bomb threat and that one of its top officials had been expelled from Hungary.

"Following a false bomb threat... the Uighur conference was cancelled," the World Federation of Hungarians (MVSZ) said in a statement on its website.

It also said the vice-president of the World Uighur Congress, German national Umit Hamit, had been expelled from Hungary, but gave no reason.

The planned May 30-June 1 conference was to have brought together youths from China's Muslim Uighur minority, which claims it faces relentless persecution by the Chinese authorities.

"The MVSZ is deeply disappointed that the meeting of Uighurs, who are the closest relatives of ethnic Hungarians, was made impossible," MVSZ official Jozsef Orban told AFP.

Police said Hamit had been expelled as he was banned from travelling to Hungary, but did not give an explanation for the ban.

Vietnam detains anti-China protesters
Hanoi (AFP) June 02, 2013 - Vietnam on Sunday detained about 30 anti-China protesters in Hanoi, witnesses said, amid growing tensions between the communist neighbours over rival territorial claims.

Security forces moved in to disperse about 100 demonstrators who gathered in the city centre for an hour-long rally, witnesses said.

The detained were taken by bus to a "rehabilitation" centre on the outskirts of the capital.

Two AFP journalists covering the demo were among those detained but were released after a few hours.

Vietnam and China have long-standing territorial disputes over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which both countries claim, and often trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration and fishing rights in the contested waters.

In March Hanoi accused a Chinese vessel of firing on one of its fishing boats.

"This is not China's sea. That's why we're protesting against this harsh aggression," protester Tam Trong Khang, 64, told AFP.

Last month Beijing sent one of its largest recorded fishing fleets to the disputed waters.

More than a dozen anti-China demonstrations have been held in Vietnam since 2011. After initially tolerating the rallies, the Vietnamese authorities have since banned them.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, speaking at a security conference in Singapore, on Friday slammed "groundless" territorial claims in Asian waters and called for self-restraint among nations involved in disputes.

A top Chinese general on Sunday sought to distance the country from claims by some of its scholars that the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, do not belong to Japan.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, told a security conference in Singapore that the scholars' views did not represent the official position.

The People's Daily, China's most circulated newspaper, had published an article last month written by two scholars from a top state-run think-tank that argued Beijing may have rights to the Ryukyus.

The lengthy article argued that the island chain was a "vassal state" of China before Japan annexed it in the late 1800s.

"This is only an article of particular scholars and their views on these issues... It does not represent the views of the Chinese government," Qi said at the annual forum known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

However, he repeated Chinese arguments for China's historical claims over a set of tiny uninhabited islets in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan.

"I have to say Diaoyu islands and Ryukyu islands and Okinawa islands... the first, and the second and the third, are not the same nature. The Chinese government on this is very clear," he said.

Both countries have been locked in a long-running dispute over the island cluster in the East China Sea which Tokyo administers but is claimed by Beijing.

The two nations have stepped up a war of words in recent months, with Chinese vessels regularly entering waters around the islands, stoking fears of armed conflict.

Some Chinese see historical ties as a basis of sovereignty and dismiss Japan's possession of the islands as a legacy of its aggressive expansionism that ended in defeat at the end of World War II.

Before being annexed into Japan in the late 19th century, the independent Ryukyu kingdom, centred on Okinawa, paid tribute to China for centuries -- as did numerous other traditional Asian states -- often receiving favourable trading rights in return.

Okinawa hosts major US air force and marine bases and is home to 1.3 million people. The US military occupied Okinawa and some other islands in the Ryukyu chain for 27 years after the end of World War II, returning them to Japan on May 15, 1972.

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