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IN THE NEWS - Tensions Between China and Japan

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I'm Steve Ember with In the News, in VOA Special English.

Chinese security forces guard a street near the Japanese Embassy.
Chinese security forces guard a street near the Japanese Embassy.

Tensions deepened this week between China and Japan.

Japan announced that it will begin to consider proposals to explore for natural gas in the East China Sea. China also claims exploration rights in the area. The Chinese government condemned the Japanese plans. On Friday a spokesman for the Japan Petroleum Exploration Company said the two sides should seek cooperation.

But competition for energy resources is not the only problem.

China and Japan have grown into major trading partners. Yet Japan's history as an aggressor in Asia continues to put pressure on relations. There is again a dispute over a history book for Japanese students. The Chinese say the book does not tell the truth about Japanese actions during World War Two.

Japan invaded China in the nineteen thirties. The Chinese suffered greatly. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says Japan must, in his words, "face up to history."

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura is expected in Beijing on Sunday for talks on a number of issues.

Last Saturday and Sunday there were anti-Japanese protests in Beijing and other cities. Protesters threw rocks at Japanese diplomatic offices and attacked Japanese-owned businesses.

Activists have spread messages calling for more protests in the coming days in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. Such unrest is rare in China. The government usually suppresses demonstrations. The Chinese have dismissed suggestions that the government supported the actions.

Chinese officials took steps on Friday to prevent another weekend of anti-Japanese protests. Police warned against unapproved demonstrations and said violators could be punished. A police statement on the Internet urged people to put their trust in the Communist Party to act in the best interests of China.

Some observers say the real reason for the Chinese anger is the attempt by Japan to get a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. More than twenty million Chinese are reported to have signed an Internet petition to oppose such action.

The United Nations is currently considering a re-organization. Proposals include adding members to the Security Council.

There are currently five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Only they have the individual power to veto council actions.

Secretary General Kofi Annan says the current Security Council represents the world of nineteen forty-five. He says the council needs to better represent the international community today.

Mister Annan also says countries that support the United Nations financially should be more involved in making decisions. Japan is a top provider to the U.N.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.

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