BEIJING--A dispute over the Senkaku Islands has forced a reception commemorating the 40th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic relations to be put off until tensions ease.
The China-Japan Friendship Association and other organizations involved on Sept. 23 decided to postpone the reception, to be held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept. 27, sources close to Japan-China relations said.
It marks the first time that an official reception to commemorate the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties, held every five years, will be postponed.
The decision reflects the Communist Party of China's stance that the time is not right to improve bilateral relations, strained by the Japanese government's decision to purchase three of the Senkaku Islands on Sept. 11.
The reception is sponsored by organizations under the Communist Party, such as the China-Japan Friendship Association.
The state-run Xinhua news agency said Sept. 23 the Chinese side decided to "readjust the schedule and hold the reception at an appropriate time," quoting an official of the China-Japan Friendship Association in charge of the event.
A senior official of the association on Sept. 23 informed Japanese officials that the decision was made "based on the current condition of the Japan-China relations," indicating that the postponement was due to the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.
Relations have sunk to their worst level in years as the two sides spar over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both and by Taiwan.
In Taiwan's capital, Taipei, hundreds of people marched Sunday to protest against Japan for occupying the islands.
They waved anti-Japan signs and asked Tokyo to relinquish the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Japan's government purchased several of the islands from their private Japanese owners this month, setting off angry demonstrations across China.
A group of Taiwanese fishermen say they will sail 60 boats to the islands on Monday to protect their fishing grounds.
Taiwan's government has maintained a cautious approach to the dispute to avoid straining ties with Japan.
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