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China's Sept. auto sales shrink as consumers shun Japanese cars

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BEIJING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Auto sales in China fell 1.8 percent from a year earlier in September as sales of Japanese-brand cars plunged amid strained ties following Japan's illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands.

The country's auto production climbed 3.7 percent year on year to 1.66 million units last month, while sales shrank to 1.62 million vehicles, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) announced on Wednesday.

The CAAM said the lower pace of growth in sales was because of a high comparative base from last year and a sales plunge in Japanese brands.

Auto sales in the first nine months of 2012 reached 14.09 million units, up 3.4 percent from one year earlier. The growth, however, was down from the 4.1-percent rise registered in the Jan.-Aug. period.

Japanese brand-passenger car sales fell 29.5 percent from August and dived 40.8 percent from a year earlier last month, while other foreign brands and major Chinese manufacturers posted strong sales, according to CAAM statistics.

Japan's government announced its decision on Sept. 10 to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands, which are China's inherent territory. The move fueled anti-Japan protests in dozens of Chinese cities last month.

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