Tuesday morning saw the Japanese government’s Foreign Ministry summon Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua over yet another incursion into territorial waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands on Monday. Beijing is showing no signs of backing down from its claims over the Japan-controlled territory, as two Chinese patrol ships spent much of the afternoon in the area, ignoring warnings from the Japan Coast Guard to leave.
While thankfully there was no breakout of hostile action, the Chinese ships entered the territorial waters around 9:30 AM local time and remained there for roughly 14 hours. This incident came right a Chinese fishing boat crew was released late Sunday after being caught and arrested for illegally fishing in waters off Okinawa. It is also only the most recent occurrence of patrol ships violating Japan’s territorial waters, with similar instances taking place nearly every other week for the last few months.
Observers believe the repeated Chinese actions are Beijing’s attempt to create a “new normal,” in other words a constant presence, in the East China Sea territory in order to prove that Japan does not have effective control over the area. If this is true, it’s another showcasing of China’s willfully belligerent and flippant attitude towards a number of territorial disputes its involved in with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. This is most evident in China’s issuing of new passports and printing of new maps, both depicting disputed areas as their own territory. While the governments of both China and Japan make statements about easing tensions and trying to resolve diplomatic ties, it seems little progress is being made, and instead there is more and more rhetoric about an armed conflict.[via AFP]