AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIJING: China has called on Japan to pursue "dialogue and negotiation" to resolve the two countries' escalating territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both.
"China demands Japan stop actions that undermine China's territorial sovereignty, return to the the right track in which problems are solved through dialogue and negotiation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang late Friday.
In a statement Qin reiterated Beijing's position that Japan's detention of Chinese citizens and their boat was a "serious infringement on China's territorial sovereignty".
Japan, which controls the disputed islands, on Friday deported a group of pro-China activists who had sailed to one of them, as Tokyo moved swiftly to put an end to a potentially damaging row with Beijing.
The deportations came just 48 hours after some of the 14 had become the first non-Japanese to set foot on any part of the archipelago -- known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan -- since 2004.
Half the group were put on board a commercial airliner in Naha, the main city in Okinawa, and arrived in Hong Kong late Friday. The others were taken back to their boat in the port of Ishigaki.
The renewed dispute came as tensions also spiked between Japan and South Korea after President Lee Myung-Bak visited islets controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.