China took a bitter territorial dispute with Japan to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accusing Tokyo of stealing disputed islands.
The Japanese government's purchase of the East China Sea islands from a private owner has infuriated the Beijing government and sparked violent protests in several Chinese cities.
"China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all activities that violate China's territorial sovereignty, take concrete actions to correct its mistakes and return to the track of resolving the dispute through negotiation," Yang told the UN assembly.
China has demanded the return of the islands for decades. Yang reaffirmed his country's historical claim that Japan tricked his country into signing a treaty ceding the islands in 1895.
"The moves taken by Japan are totally illegal and invalid. They can in no way change the historical fact that Japan stole Diaoyu and its affiliated islands from China and the fact that China has territorial sovereignty over them," said the Chinese minister.
Yang's speech came two days after stern talks he held with Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on the dispute.