China urges Japan to keep South China Sea row off G-7 agenda: sources


China has pressed Japan not to broach Beijing’s disputes with regional neighbors in the South China Sea at the upcoming Group of Seven summit to be held in Japan in May, arguing that touching on the issue would hamper efforts to improve bilateral relations, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

China pressed the point to Japan at a vice foreign ministerial gathering held in Tokyo in late February, according to the sources.

But Japan rebuffed the Chinese demand, saying the international community cannot accept China’s building of artificial islands in the sea and their militarization, they said.

China is embroiled in overlapping territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea with Taiwan and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to clearly state the importance of the rule of law in the G-7 leaders’ declaration after securing unity over the South China Sea issue at the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting that will take place in Hiroshima in April.