In a clear sign that China intends to continue escalating its dispute with Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyu by the Chinese), China’s foreign ministry confirmed on 26 April that it views the islands as a “core interest”. This is a term that Beijing uses for describing Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.
China has been moving towards this position for some time. In January 2012 the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, referred to the Senkakus as a “core interest”, and in May 2012 it was reported by Japanese sources that during a meeting with former Japanese Justice Minister Satsuki Eda in Tokyo, the head of China’s International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Wang Jiarui, referred to the Senkaku Islands as being part of “China’s core interests”. These were strong pointers, but not official confirmation.
Now the question has been put beyond doubt. On 26 April in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press conference: “The Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course it’s China’s core interest.”
Hua made the comment after General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Japan's public broadcaster NHK in Tokyo that Chinese officials had repeatedly told him during his visit to Beijing earlier in the week that the islands were "one of China's core interests".