China's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday, there is little reason for optimism that relations with Japan will improve, accusing "two-faced" Tokyo of constantly seeking to make trouble.
Both China and Japan have strained relations by the legacy of Japan’s World War Two aggression and claims over uninhabited East China Sea islets.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he hoped bilateral ties could improve as the two countries have a "tradition of friendship" while speaking at his yearly news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament meeting.
"Thanks to the efforts of wise people on both sides, there are signs of improvement in the China-Japan relations, but there is little ground for optimism," he said.
"Of course we want to see the China-Japan relations truly improve, but as a saying goes, to cure diseases, you have to address underlying problems," Wang added.
Japanese leaders say nice things about wanting to improve relations, but on the other they "create troubles for China at every turn", he said.
"This is what I would call a typical case of being two faced."
Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in February that Japan was gathering and analysing information on China’s activities in the South China Sea with “serious interest”.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
The United States began conducting "freedom of navigation" operations near islands where China has been carrying out controversial reclamation work and stationing advanced weapons.
"All ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) states hope for freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Suga told reporters, when asked about Wang's comments. "Isn't it a rule in the international community that any country can say what it has to say on an unilateral attempt at dominance with force?"
However, Suga said that nothing has been changed to Japan's activities that the door to dialogue with China remained open.