Making good on threats to penalize China for nuclear testing, Japan froze most of its grants to China on Tuesday.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Chen Jian said the decision could be “highly detrimental to the sound development of Sino-Japanese relations.”
The decision does not affect loans, which make up the bulk of Japan’s aid to China, but some officials want the government to reduce them if China conducts another nuclear test.
The freeze also does not cover grants for humanitarian or emergency purposes, meaning that China will probably receive about $5 million in total grants this fiscal year, compared to $80 million in the last, which ended March 31.
The move marks a departure from Japan’s traditional reluctance to confront its giant neighbor. Tokyo backed off from earlier threats to curtail aid after a Chinese nuclear test in May, and it imposed the freeze in retaliation for a test this month only after tussling between the ruling coalition and the Foreign Ministry.
Chen also criticized Japan for failing to use the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II to own up to the atrocities it committed in Asia. “Instead,” he said, “it is now trying to make a big issue of China’s nuclear testing. One cannot but wonder what its true political motives are.”