"From the perspective of senior Chinese officials, they don't want to be seen in Japan or in any way being soft on Japan," Dujarric said. "This crisis with Japan — and indirectly with the U.S. — is more important to them than the IMF," Dujarric said.
Under a security pact with Japan, some 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan. While Washington has said it remains neutral in the island dispute, American officials have also said that the islets fall under the security treaty that obliges the U.S. to protect Japanese territory.
Chinese central bank governor and finance minister hold important positions, but they generally don't wield as much power in domestic decision-making as their counterparts in other countries. Most major financial decisions require approval by the communist party leadership.
"This decision was likely made above the heads of these finance officials," Jakobson said.
China, with its growing middle class, was one of the emerging markets that Japanese companies were counting on to boost sales amid a long stagnation in their domestic market and sluggish global growth.
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