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Chinese, Japanese officials meet amid islands dispute

Japanese coastguard ships fired a water cannon to push back Taiwanese vessels in the latest confrontation over tiny islands in the East China Sea.

BEIJING // Japanese coastguard ships fired a water cannon to push back Taiwanese vessels yesterday in the latest confrontation over tiny islands in the East China Sea.

About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol boats entered waters near the islands on Tuesday morning, briefly triggering an exchange of water cannon fire with Japanese coastguard ships who said the Taiwanese vessels ignored warnings to get out of their territory.

It was the first foray by Taiwan into the waters around the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, since the Japanese government purchased some of them from private owners two weeks ago. China, Japan and Taiwan all claim the islands, but they are administered by Tokyo.

The Chinese vice foreign minister, Zhang Zhijun, and Japanese vice foreign minister, Chikao Kawai, flanked by their aides, held a meeting on the dispute yesterday in Beijing.

After the four-hour meeting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said both sides exchanged views "frankly and deeply", and he reiterated that "China will never tolerate Japan's unilateral acts which violate China's territorial sovereignty".

But he said both sides had agreed to continue discussions over the islands.

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