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Chinese Finance Chiefs Skip IMF Meeting in Tokyo, Report Says

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Governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Chinese central bank governor and minister will not attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings that are being held in Tokyo, with speculation that it might be due to the ongoing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren and People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan did not attend the IMF-World Bank meetings that started Tuesday and will continue throughout the week, reported the Kyodo news agency, citing a Chinese regime official familiar with the matter. The meeting will draw representatives from 180 countries.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters on Wednesday that Chinese officials’ absence at the meetings “is not only bad for Japan-China relations, but also for the global economy,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “I believe it also won’t be a plus for China, considering how the international community will view such moves.”

The Chinese regime has amped up its threats against Japan over the Senkakus, a set of small, rocky islands thought to be near an abundance of natural gas and fishing sites. The conflict has triggered violent protests against Japanese establishments and corporations inside China. There have also been reports that Chinese officials are orchestrating a boycott of Japanese-made goods and services, including medicine at hospitals.

It was announced that the customs port in Tianjin near Beijing would raise the price of inspection rates on Japanese products, likely delaying them while going through customs. Japanese corporations, including the Toyota Motor Corp., said they would suspend production in October and stop exports in China from Japan.

However, it is still unclear if the two Chinese finance officials would show up at the meeting, given that a report from the Chinese state-run Xinhua on Tuesday said they would make an appearance.

“If they did not come, it would be very unfortunate, as the Tokyo gatherings are important,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told the Kyodo news agency. 

Fujimura added that Japan “will seek to communicate with China from a broad perspective as economic exchanges between Japan and China are important.” China and Japan are the second and third-largest economies in the world respectively.

The Chinese delegation to the IMF-World Bank meetings will be headed by deputy central bank chief Yi Gang and the Zhu Guangyao, the vice-finance minister, the news agency reported.

Four of China’s massive state-run banks, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and the Agriculture Bank of China, will skip the Tokyo meetings, according to a Xinhua report earlier this week. The ICBC is the largest lending bank by market value.

Tensions between Japan and China have been mounting since early September, when Japan purchased three of the islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese, from a wealthy businessman in an attempt to nationalize them. Japan has controlled the islands since 1971 after the United States transfered ownership. Taiwan has also asserted sovereignty over the islands, calling them the “Diaoyutai.”

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