BEIJING, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- China accused Japan of starting a propaganda war to strengthen its claims to a group of East China Sea islands claimed by both nations.
The uninhabited islands are under Japanese control but are also claimed by China. Tensions arising from rival claims have sharply deteriorated Sino-Japanese relations since last month after Japan nationalized the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
China's official media has carried a number of articles attacking Japan over the issue maintaining the islands have all along been part of Chinese territory. The issue has gained importance since recent reports that the islands and their waters are rich in energy resources.
In its latest commentary titled "Japan's propaganda war on Diaoyu Islands doomed to fail," China's official Xinhua News Agency said Tokyo is again "playing new tricks."
Xinhua said Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba's visits to Britain, France and Germany are designed to "lobby the three Western nations for support."
Xinhua also said Japan's Foreign Ministry plans to print pamphlets about the islands in 10 languages and distribute them around the world.
"Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets have been an integral part of China's territory since Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)," Xinhua said, while saying Japan's claims are "no more than broken pieces of unconfirmed documents and blurring the conceptual difference between 'control' and 'sovereignty'."
Earlier at the U.N. General Assembly, China accused Japan of stealing the islands.
"Facts are facts, and history can not be denied," Xinhua said. "People across the world will not be deceived by the performance of certain clowns on the Japanese political arena who want to stir up a row and attract attention," adding "its propaganda campaign is doomed to fail."