Tue, 02 Mar 2021

Tokyo [Japan], February 20 (ANI): Japan has lodged a protest with China after two Chinese ships intruded into Japanese coastal waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, local media reported.

According to the Kyodo news outlet, the protest was conveyed to China's embassy in Tokyo by the head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Takehiro Funakoshi.

The news agency added, citing Japan's security service, that, before the incident occurred, four Chinese ships had been drifting near the Japanese coastal waters. Later, two vessels approached the disputed islands, with one of the ships carrying a gun.

According to Sputnik, this year, Chinese ships have violated the Japanese sea border eight times.

In 2020, Japan registered 24 cases of Chinese ships violation of its sea border and 333 cases of Chinese ships entrance into Japan's contiguous zone.

In mid-October, China's vessels entered Japan's territorial waters and left them only 57 hours later, marking a new record of the length of stay in the area. The previous record was hit in July, when Chinese ships drifted in Japan's territorial sea for 39 hours.

The islands in question, known in China as the Diaoyutai islands, have long been an object of territorial disputes between China and Japan.

Recently, Taiwan has expressed concerns about the Chinese aggression and destabilising actions near the Diaoyutai islands, after Chinese coast guard ships sailed near the disputed islands.

Asked about China's actions, Taiwan Foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou told a regular news conference in Taipei that the government is paying close attention to developments in the East China Sea.

The presence of an armed Chinese vessel near the Diaoyutai Island has a destabilising effect, she said, adding that Chinese harassment is not just limited to the sea.

In the early 2010s, China and Japan were mired in a territorial row over the Senkakus. Beijing has rapidly built up artificial islands with military infrastructure in the region, in its claim of sovereignty over almost the entire maritime region.

Moreover, China has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- as well as Taiwan in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, US warships carried out a freedom of navigation operations in an apparent bid to challenge Chinese claims and actions in the area. (ANI)

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