China has said it will use unmanned drones to carry out marine surveillance as it tries to increase its presence around uninhabited East China Sea islands at the centre of a dispute with Japan.
Li Mousheng, a spokesman for the State Oceanic Administration, says the decision follows a successful pilot programme conducted yesterday.
The announcement comes as China seeks to have a greater presence around the islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.
Mr Li cited state media reports saying China aims to have drones and monitoring bases in place by 2015, but did not say when they would be deployed around the islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
China responded furiously this month to the Japanese government's purchase of the islands from their private owners.