China Coast Guard vessels sail near Senkaku Islands

China has refused to recognize Japan’s claims to the waters around the disputed islets.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 13, 2016 at 11:35 AM
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TOKYO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- China is not backing down after Japan designated waters within a 12-nautical-mile radius of the disputed Senkaku Islands as the country's sovereign maritime zone.

The Chinese Coast Guard dispatched two vessels near the islets, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands, two days after Tokyo vowed to respond more strongly to Chinese warships, Kyodo News reported.

At least one of the vessels was equipped with guns, and both ships lingered within the Japan-designated zone for two hours before sailing out of the 12-nautical-mile radius that extends from the islets, currently under Japan's administration.

This is the second time China has dispatched state ships within the zone since Jan. 8, Yonhap reported.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that Tokyo's Maritime Security Act would go into effect should Chinese vessels enter what Japan has claimed as sovereign waters.

China has refused to recognize Japan's claims.

During a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China has the right to conduct "normal patrol activities" near the Diaoyutai Islands.

"We recommend Japan not engage in activities that could provoke or aggravate the situation," Hong said.

Japanese officials had clarified its specifications to China, after a Chinese warship reportedly sailed near the Senkaku Islands in November.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces would be deployed to confront such ships in the future, according to Japan press.

Last March, the Japanese government raised the ire of Beijing, after displaying a 1969 Chinese map of the Senkaku Islands on its foreign ministry website that identified the disputed territory by its Japanese name.

Hong had said the map reflects Japan's aggression and its colonial legacy in Taiwan. Prior to the Sino-Japanese War that lasted from 1894 to 1895, Hong said Western maps marked the islands as belonging to China.

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