Chinese patrol ships sail disputed waters

Chinese patrol ships sail disputed waters

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Chinese patrol ships sail disputed waters

AP photo

Six surveillance Chinese ships sailed into waters around a disputed archipelago on Sept. 14, with Beijing saying they were there for “law enforcement” around islands Japan nationalized earlier this week.

The move, dubbed “unprecedented” by Tokyo, marked the latest stage in a deteriorating row between Asia’s two biggest economies and came as reports emerged of Japanese nationals being physically attacked in China.

Japanese living or visiting China were warned to take extra precautions after assaults and harassment were reported to the consulate in Shanghai, a base for Japanese businesses and a popular tourist destination. Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua to protest what it insists is an incursion into territorial waters around islands it controls, called Senkaku, but claimed by Beijing as Diaoyu.

However, China was resolute, with the foreign ministry issuing a forthright statement claiming the boats were patrolling sovereign territory.

“Two Chinese surveillance ship fleets have arrived at waters around the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islands on September 14, 2012 to start patrol and law enforcement,” the statement said. “These law enforcement and patrol activities are designed to demonstrate China’s jurisdiction over the islands and safeguard its maritime interests.”

“We understand that (the dispatch of) six ships is surely an unprecedented case,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a press conference.

The islands in the East China Sea lie around 400 kilometers from the Okinawan capital of Naha and 200 kilometers from Taiwan.