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No Illegal Protests, China Tells Citizens
BEIJING/TOKYO (Reuters) - China warned its people on Friday against staging fresh protests when Japan's foreign minister visits at the weekend, seeking to head off a repeat of last week's violent anti-Japanese demonstrations.
Thousands took part in protests in at least four Chinese cities on Saturday and Sunday, and Internet chatrooms, emails and mobile phone messages have been urging people to join a new round of protests in cities across China this weekend.
Foreign missions, wary of possible violence after demonstrators threw rocks and eggs at Japanese diplomatic missions and attacked some Japanese businesses last week, cautioned their citizens about possible new protests.
The demonstrations, triggered by what many see as Japan's failure to own up to World War II atrocities, come at a time that Japan is seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a move that China firmly opposes.
While last weekend's protests appeared to have tacit state approval, the government appealed to demonstrators to avoid "extreme activities" and on Friday Beijing police warned against "unapproved or harmful" activities.
"Any assemblies, protests and demonstrations should be approved by the public security organ," the China News Service quoted a Beijing police spokesman as saying.
Unapproved and harmful activities were "illegal" and would be punished.
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that Chinese public security authorities had told the Japanese embassy in Beijing that they detained seven people in relation to anti-Japan protests in the capital last Saturday.
Chinese authorities said they were held on suspicion of "unlawful acts," Kyodo quoted an embassy official as saying. A Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo said the ministry was aware a number of people had been detained but could not confirm details.
"We must deepen mutual understanding and trust through dialogue and not allow individual issues to become an obstacle to the development of the overall Japan-China relationship," the Foreign Ministry said in an annual diplomatic report.
"We will seek to expand mutual benefits through strengthening cooperation in a wide range of areas."
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura flies to Beijing on Sunday to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, aiming to ensure that current bilateral squabbles over everything from gas exploration in disputed waters to Japan's treatment of its own history do not escalate or hurt their $178 billion in trade.
"I think it is particularly meaningful to have discussions at a time like this when there are various problems," Machimura told reporters.