In a surprise move, China has not sent its finance minister or top banking officials to two major international finance meetings in Japan this weekend.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding their annual meetings in Tokyo for the first time in 50 years.
Radio Australia reports the Chinese withdrawal marks a new stage in a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over conflicting territorial claims in the East China Sea.
Chinese state media said Vice-Minister Zhu Guangyao would attend instead of Finance Minister Xie Xuren.
China's four banks also skipped the meetings. Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the People's Bank of China, was scheduled to attend and deliver a speech.
Both China and Japan claim a group of islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Taiwan also claims them.