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China-Japan relations

Japan claims Chinese ships again sail close to disputed islands in East China Sea

Tokyo says it is the second time in a week that Chinese vessels have come close to the Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 9:01pm

Chinese coastguard vessels sailed near disputed islands claimed by Japan and China in the East China Sea on Monday, marking the second such incident in less than a week.

The four ships entered the waters surrounding the island chain, controlled by Japan and known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in China, at about 10am and were moving in a southwest direction, according to the Japanese coastguard.

An online statement from China’s State Oceanic Administration only said the four Chinese coastguard vessels were “patrolling in Chinese waters off the Diaoyu Islands”.

Japan’s coastguard said it was the second time since Thursday that four Chinese ships had entered its waters.

Japan has routinely complained that China is escalating regional tensions by regularly sending ships to the island chain despite repeated protests from Tokyo.

Beijing defends East China Sea activities after Japan protests

The two countries have been locked in a long-running dispute over the islands, which are believed to harbour vast natural resources below their seabed, with China claiming them as its own.

Beijing is also involved in maritime disputes in the South China Sea. It asserts sovereignty over most of the area despite rival partial claims by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A UN-backed tribunal last July ruled that Beijing’s claims were invalid.

The US Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea to challenge China’s claims to control of the waters, angering Beijing.