BEIJING (Reuters) - China's official Xinhua news agency on Monday poured cold water on the idea that the leaders of China and Japan could have formal talks on the sidelines of next week's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Expectations have been growing in Japan for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for an ice-breaking chat at the gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders.
A meeting of the two leaders would be a symbolic breakthrough in ties between the world's second- and third-biggest economies, which have turned frigid in the past two years over a territorial row, regional rivalry and the bitter legacy of Japan's wartime occupation of China.
Abe had "spared no efforts" in seeking to meet with Xi, Xinhua said in an English-language commentary.
"His wish will be fulfilled, since Beijing, the host of this forum, will undoubtedly receive the Japanese leader with etiquette and hospitality, despite chronic territorial rows and a historical feud with Tokyo," it said.
"However, that does not necessarily mean Abe's long-sought formal talks with Xi during APEC would come true, which demands Abe extend good faith and take real action to create the proper atmosphere."
But Japan has not made such efforts in bilateral ties, which have been constantly troubled by its attempts to wash off its war-time atrocities, Xinhua added.
Xinhua commentaries are not official government pronouncements, but can be read as a reflection of official thinking.
The commentary said that though bad ties benefited neither country, Japan had "launched a string of provocations" last month, including visits by government ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Yasukuni honors millions of war dead, including wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal.
"In short, it seems nothing more than a mere clumsy political stunt for the island country to advocate dialogue and fence-mending with neighbors on the one hand, while sticking to the bigoted course of fomenting strife and misgivings on the other," Xinhua added.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez