Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged Japan to release a boat captain "immediately and unconditionally," state media said Wednesday, after his arrest in disputed waters set off a diplomatic crisis.
The dispute erupted when a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coastguard vessels collided on September 7 near disputed islands that lie in rich fishing grounds and near possible oil and gas fields. Japan arrested the captain, Zhan Qixiong, 41, the following day, citing its domestic law. On Sunday, a court extended his detention until September 29, when he must be either indicted or released.
In New York, both Wen and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan are due to meet separately with Obama, but China has ruled out any fence-mending talks between the two Asian leaders.
"Obviously the atmosphere is not suitable for such a meeting. The issue has severely hurt bilateral relations," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters on Tuesday.
China's Wen urges Japan to free jailed captain [AFP, 22 September 2010]