The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands located roughly due east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands. Both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands.
Japan says four Chinese ships in disputed waters
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Four Chinese maritime surveillance ships were spotted in territorial waters around disputed Tokyo-controlled islands on Sunday, Japan’s coastguard said.
The ships entered Japan’s 12-nautical-mile territorial waters around the East China Sea islands about 10am and sailed out to the contiguous zone after a few hours, the coastguard said.
It said the Chinese ships were not the same as those which spent several hours on Thursday in territorial waters around the islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. That incursion provoked a strong protest by Japan.
The so-called contiguous zone is an area that extends a further 12 nautical miles beyond the territorial waters.
China’s state news agency Xinhua, citing the country’s State Oceanic Administration, said the vessels were engaged in “routine patrols and law enforcement activities” in the waters.
It said the Chinese fleet told the Japanese coastguard ships to “immediately leave China’s territory”, while monitoring them “for the purpose of collecting evidence of infringement on China’s sovereignty”.
Tensions have risen in recent months over the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which lie in rich fishing grounds. The seabed in the area is also believed to harbour mineral reserves.
Tokyo and Beijing are reportedly preparing for talks on the row which has hit multi-billion dollar trade ties between Asia’s two largest economies.