BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- China holds a "firm stance" over the Diaoyu Islands, and any of Japan's unilateral moves against Chinese nationals is illegal and invalid, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.
As Japan decided to release 14 Chinese nationals it was detaining, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: "China holds a clear and firm stance on the issue of Diaoyu Islands."
He was responding to a question from the press as reports emerged that the Japanese government decided at a cabinet meeting to "deport" the Chinese, who were arrested by Japanese police on suspicion of "illegal entry."
The Chinese government has repeatedly lodged representations over the illegal detention to the Japanese side, the spokesman said, adding that China was pushing for arrangements to ensure the "swift, safe and smooth return" of the Chinese nationals.
The nationals were arrested Wednesday afternoon when they went to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea to assert China's sovereignty over the islands.
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