Four Chinese government ships sailed into the territorial waters of disputed Tokyo-controled islands in the East China Sea yesterday, Japan’s coast guard said.
The maritime surveillance vessels entered the 12 nautical mile (22km) zone around Uotsurijima, the main islet in the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), called the Senkaku Islands in Japan and also claimed by Taiwan, at about noon.
Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai “strongly protested to the Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua (程永華) about the Chinese ships’ intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters and the growing frequency of such moves” by telephone, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Kawai said the “repeated provocative action” would undermine communication between the countries aimed at calming the situation, according to the statement.
The Chinese envoy repeated Beijing’s own view on the issue, but added he was seeking to resolve the dispute through dialogue, it said.
Chinese vessels have moved in and out of what Japan says is its sovereign territory over the past two months since Tokyo nationalized some of the islands in the group.
On Friday, six Chinese government ships temporarily entered the territorial waters around the same islet, the coast guard said.
As well as the potential mineral reserves, national pride is at stake in the decades-old spat, which has recently spiked and hit the huge trade relationship between the two biggest economies in the region.
Japan and China are readying for a third round of talks on the issue, but Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is not likely to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Laos opening today, reports have said.