It seems as if there’s been a never-ending presence of Chinese patrols ships near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands over the past few weeks, with vessels going home only being replaced by new ones. However, the Japan Coast Guard has reported today that four patrol ships have entered Japanese territorial waters, something that hasn’t occurred in some time. The first three ships entered the waters just after 6:30 AM, with a fourth joining an hour later.
As it always does in these situations, the Japanese government has “strongly protested” China’s maritime action through diplomatic channels. The Japan Coast Guard says the four patrol ships are operating near Minamikojima, one of the disputed islands in the East China Sea that Japan controls and officially purchased last month. The vessels were given a direct order by the coast guard to leave the waters, to which one of them responded that the area was in fact China’s.
The last time Chinese patrol ships entered territorial waters near the territorial dispute was on October 3rd. Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has stated that the vessels are carrying out regular patrols, and maintaining authority over what is China’s jurisdiction. The Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua was warned by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to immediately order the ships out of Japan’s waters. The Beijing government has repeatedly said that Japan’s purchase of the islands is an attack on China’s sovereignty.