Beijing has suspended high-level contacts with Japan after Tokyo extended its detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain accused of deliberately ramming Japanese coast guard vessels, the Wall Street Journal reported. The central government also threatened "strong countermeasures" if Tokyo does not release the captain. The decision is likely to provoke more protests by nationalists on the mainland, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has the potential to damage commercial relations between the world’s second- and third-largest economies. China has already postponed talks on joint exploitation of natural-gas reserves near the islands and has repeatedly summoned the Japanese ambassador to China to lodge formal protests, sometimes in the middle of the night. The US, which has defense obligations to Japan, has said it considers the current spat to be between China and Japan alone, and believes the issue can be resolved through diplomacy.
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