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Japanese and Chinese diplomats met on Wednesday for urgent talks over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea. Those negotiations, on the fringes of the UN General Assembly meeting, seem to have had little success. At the heart of the dispute are five small, largely barren islands. The latest row over them began this month when the Japanese government said it would buy three of them from a businessman. That triggered angry protests in cities across China, forcing Japanese businesses to close and a warning from China that economic ties could be affected. So does this tussle illustrate that relations between Asia’s two biggest economies are at a particularly low ebb – or is this a minor blip in their often stormy relations?

VOR’s Hywel Davies discussed this with his guests: Professor James Woudhuysen of De Montfort University in the UK; Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, of Kings College London; on the line from Hong Kong, Andrew Leung, an independent expert on China; and Professor Yuriy Tavrovskiy, Moscow’s Russian Peoples’ Friendship University.

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