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 Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Lost portraits of the Somme: 100 images of Tommies posing before they went over the top. Now can you help to identify them?
Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Ashley Cole tweets unsettling meme of him stalking ex-wife Cheryl Cole and new husband Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...
£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...