Tensions rise in East China Sea over island sale
Japanese coastguard warned by Chinese ships to leave disputed area 'or bear the consequences'
Tensions between Asia's two biggest economies reached their highest level in years yesterday when China sent six surveillance ships into the waters around islands at the centre of its territorial dispute with Japan.
The ships' crews exchanged warnings with Japanese coastguard ships as they briefly entered the area around the Diaoyu islands, as they are known in China, which are situated in the East China Sea.
Relations between China and Japan have long been tense, but Tokyo's recent decision to buy the uninhabited islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus, from a private owner has brought anger to the boil in China.
China's state broadcaster CCTV repeatedly played footage of a Chinese marine surveillance officer aboard one of the ships radioing the Japanese vessels, demanding they leave.
"The actions of your ships violate China's sovereignty and rights. Any unilateral act from your side regarding the Diaoyu islands and its affiliated islands is illegal and invalid. Please stop any infringing acts. Otherwise, your side will bear the consequences caused by your actions," the officer said.
"It is deplorable that the invasion of the territorial waters happened and we strongly request that the Chinese authorities leave our territory," Japan's chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters yesterday.
While the islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds, they also have strategic importance. The row is also seen as a clash between China's growing regional clout in the face of what it sees as Japanese nationalism and aggression.
China believes the islands were illegally invaded and occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War, and were returned to China when Japan was defeated. Diplomats in Beijing say neither side wants the situation to escalate, but admitted it might be difficult to keep things calm.
Japan has elections coming up, and China is facing a tense change of leadership due next month, both of which make finding a solution that plays to their respective domestic audiences problematic.
Next week is also the anniversary of the Mukden Incident in 1931, when Japan seized Manchuria in northeast China, triggering 14 years of occupation by China. The date is known as 9.18 in China and is likely to see major protests.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said Japan's actions were like stealing a neighbour's bicycle and said the decision to send the ships to the islands was a "powerful measure" to defend China's sovereignty.
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
- 3 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist personal injury...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An experienced TLO is required to manage, deli...