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Chinese ships detected near disputed islands — Analysis

Two coast guard vessels entered Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, NHK news reports

On Monday morning, two Chinese coast guard vessels entered Japan’s territorial waters near the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, an East China Sea archipelago which is the subject of longstanding dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, NHK news reports.

Around 7am, ships entered waters 20km offshore of Minami Kojima and approached a Japanese fishing vessel, according to the Japanese public broadcaster.

To “Make sure that your fishing boats remain safe.” NHK said, the Japan Coast Guard sent patrol ships to the area and asked the Chinese vessels to leave immediately. Later, Japanese authorities confirmed that they had seen the vessels leave the Senkaku Islands.

Monday’s incident, according to the outlet’s figures, marks the seventh time this year that Japan has spotted Chinese ships navigating off the islands, which are known in China as the Diaoyu Islands.

Tokyo has previously condemned the “Intruders” of increasingly large Chinese Coast Guard ships in Senkaku territorial waters and expressed concern over the growing number of vessels armed with automatic cannons.

Beijing claims that the Coast Guard patrols territorial waters.

Chinese territorial territory includes the Diaoyu Islands, and its associated islands. Therefore, sailing Chinese Coast Guard vessels in these waters is legal.,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in June last year.

Beijing and Taiwan both claim that the Senkaku Islands were part of Chinese territory at least since 1534. The islands came under Japanese control in late 19th-century during the Sino-Japanese War. After World War II they fell under the US’ control, and were then returned to Japan in 1972. China, however, continues to claim sovereignty over the islands, which Tokyo considers an integral part of Japan’s territory.

As evidence began to appear of large oil-and gas deposits off the coasts of archipelago, the dispute grew in the 1960s.

The recent increase in Chinese activity has led to an evident rise in Chinese activity within the area around these islands. According to Japan Coast Guard records, China Coast Guard ships navigated close to Senkaku Islands nearly every day in 2021 and entered their territory 34 times.

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