The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reaffirmed the nation’s sovereignty claim over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) after Japan, which controls the islands in the East China Sea, accused Chinese and Russian warships of operating near the disputed islands.
“It is an indisputable fact that the Diaoyutai Islands are an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Any unilateral action taken by other parties will not change the fact,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
Citing the government’s stance in calling on all parties concerned to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner, Ou said the government was aware of the latest incident when Chinese and Russian warships were detected in waters near the Diaoyutais, and it was closely monitoring the situation to safeguard national and regional peace and security.
Photo: Reuters / Kyodo
Ou made the remarks when asked to comment on the Japanese government’s protest lodged with China over the latest incident.
The Diaoyutai Islands are also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands, and Taiwan.
Japan lodged a protest with China on Monday over a Chinese naval vessel sailing near the islands it calls the Senkakus, a Japanese official said, as reports emerged of Russia also sending its own ship to the area.
Japanese officials regularly protest the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels near the islands, but it is the first time since 2018 that a navy ship had been spotted there, public broadcaster NHK reported.
At about 7:44am on Monday, a Chinese navy frigate “was observed entering Japan’s contiguous waters” southwest of one of the Tokyo-controlled islands, a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense said.
Contiguous waters are a 12 nautical mile (22km) band that extends beyond territorial waters.
“We expressed grave concerns and lodged our protest to the Chinese side through a diplomatic route, and urged them to prevent a repeat” of similar incidents, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told reporters.
The islets “are Japanese territory from the viewpoints of both history and international law,” he said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said in response that the Chinese vessels’ activities are “legitimate and legal” as the islands are “China’s inherent territory.”
Separately, a Russian naval ship was also spotted in the contiguous waters of the disputed islands on Monday morning, NHK, Jiji Press and other Japanese media reported, citing anonymous Japanese defense ministry sources.
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