China is denying spying allegations against one of its diplomats who left Japan this month after refusing a police request to appear for questioning.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters Wednesday it was baseless to call Li Chunguang a spy.
Japanese reports say police suspect Li was collecting intelligence on Japanese politicians and businessmen. The case points to enduring mistrust between the sides stemming from historical enmity, economic rivalry, and a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Liu described Li as an expert on China who worked for the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences before being assigned to Japan.
Japan's Kyodo News service says allegations against Li include that he opened bank accounts using fraudulent documents and engaged in unauthorized commercial activities.