Over the weekend, the head of China’s Oceanic Administration stated that there was “no time limit” for how long they would have their patrol ships sailing in the waters near the disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands. Hong Kong’s Ming Pao daily reported that Chinese Oceanic Administration Secretary Liu Cigui had said it was still important for the country to protect its sovereignty over the islands against Japan’s “alleged” purchase of them in September.
While Chinese patrol ships have been seen in the territory’s waters almost without respite since Japan-China tensions were ignited in early September, there have been a few times where the vessels left completely. But the ships currently there have been present for 23 consecutive days now, the longest since the diplomatic relations between the two countries have begun to deteriorate. Secretary Liu also praised the actions of the Hong Kong activists who sailed into the disputed territory in mid-August, calling them “patriots.” Using a fishing boat, the group of 14 individuals managed to land on one of the islands and plant a Chinese flag after evading the Japan Coast Guard’s ships.
Whenever China’s patrol ships enter the waters just outside Japan’s jurisdiction, the Japan Coast Guard warns them not to proceed any further. There have been several breaches of Japan’s territorial waters, resulting in standoffs, but the Chinese vessels always respond that they are carrying out regular patrols of areas under their control.