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China violates Japan’s territorial waters, spends record time sparking row

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Chinese ships

In a yet another crusade, which looks like deliberately strategic, China is seen encroaching Japan’s territorial waters. On two instances Chinese coast guard ships have intruded into territorial waters of Japan in past four days. On Monday Japanese authorities in Tokyo said that on one instance Japanese coast guard vessels had to block the Chinese ships from advancing towards former’s fishing boats.

The Japanese Coast Guard elaborated that the Chinese vessels had come within 4 miles distance from Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands, which are known as Diaoyu Islands in China. This is well past the internationally approved area of 12 miles that marks any country’s territorial waters limit.

These islands though have been under the jurisdiction of Japan since 1972, China too presses its claims on the uninhabited islands repeatedly, which are located in south of East China Sea.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented that Tokyo has been repeatedly lodging diplomatic protests with Beijing on continuous presence of Chinese ships in close proximity to their waters.

The rocky chain of islands which is situated 1200 miles South-west of Tokyo has long been a tension issue between countries. Both countries lay their claims on islands dating since hundreds of years. With contested territory being considered a national birthright both in Tokyo and Beijing, it is unlikely for any of the countries to back down from their claims over the Senkaku Islands/ Diaoyu Islands.

The tensions over claims however escalated last month when Okinawa City Council passed a bill that would change the “administrative status of the island chain”. The vote asserted the islands to be a “part of Japanese territory”, the fact that didn’t go well with Beijing and led to major protest.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in statement on Monday that patrolling waters near islands is an inherent right of Beijing, and urged Tokyo to cease trespassing China’s sovereignty.

Japanese coast guard stated that now the Chinese vessels have spent 84 days in water around disputed islands. But the recent encroachment into Japan’s territorial waters has escalated the dispute game. The two Chinese intrusions since Thursday have lasted 30 hours and 40 hours respectively.

This has been the longest any Chinese ship has spent time in Japan’s territorial waters around the islands. Since then the Chinese vessels have been coursing in waters within 4 to 6 miles range from islands. This is also a delicate issue due to close proximity between ships, risking a collision. This can attract military confrontation if provoked.

US is obligated to protect the islands as part of Japan under a mutual defense pact with Tokyo. The strain between Tokyo and Beijing can further be under stress due to emerging defense ties between Japan and India.

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