16 Sep 2012

Protest in China over disputed islands

10:10 am on 16 September 2012

Thousands of protesters have besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing, hurling rocks and bottles, amid growing tensions between Asia's two biggest economies over a group of disputed islands.

The long-standing territorial dispute escalated dramatically on Friday when China sent six surveillance ships to a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, raising tensions between the two countries to their highest level since 2010.

Reuters news agency reports that the Japanese government had earlier said it would buy the islands, which Tokyo calls the Senkaku and Beijing calls the Diaoyu, from a private Japanese owner despite Chinese warnings against doing so.

The dispute flared up in August after Japan detained a group of Chinese activists who had landed on the islands.