China, Japan boats standoff in disputed waters: report


BEIJING: Chinese and Japanese patrol boats were involved in a stand-off near disputed islands, China’s state media has reported, accusing the Japanese side of “unreasonable interference”.

Two Chinese fishery patrol vessels were cruising near the islands in the East China Sea on Saturday when they were approached by up to seven Japanese patrol boats and two reconnaissance aircraft that circled above, the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported.

The Japanese side asked the Chinese boats when they planned to leave, said the report issued Monday.

The Chinese boats responded by saying the disputed waters were “China’s sacred territory” and they vowed to continue carrying out patrols in future.

“It is very clear that Japan had prepared in advance” for the confrontation, it quoted a Chinese fisheries official as saying.

The Chinese boats left the area on Sunday, the Japanese coastguard said in a previous statement, after it repeatedly sent messages warning them not to enter the waters.

Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the potentially resource-rich islets, known as the Diaoyu islands in China and the Senkaku in Japan, along with their surrounding waters.

However, Japan has traditionally had more of a presence in the area.

A tense territorial row broke out in September after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain after a collision in the area between his boat and Japanese coastguard ships.

He was eventually freed but the dispute brought ties between the Asian neighbours to their lowest point in years.

The arrest sparked serious protests from China, which cut or dramatically reduced political, cultural and economic exchanges with Japan. The two have since worked to get their relationship back on an even keel.

Japanese media reported Sunday that Tokyo plans to deploy around 100 troops on an island near the disputed islets by 2015 in response to Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the area.

The troops on Yonaguni, which lies around 150 kilometres (100 miles) southwest of the disputed islands, will monitor warships and planes.

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