[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
China sends patrol ships amid island row
Surveillance ships dispatched after Japan said it would nationalise strategically important East China Sea islands.
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2012 16:23

China has dispatched two marine surveillance ships to the East China Sea around the Diaoyu islands - known in Japan as the Senkaku islands - to "assert the country's sovereignty".

The move came just hours after Japan brushed off stern warnings by China on Tuesday, and bought the group of islands that both sides claim.

The growing dispute threatens to deepen tensions between Asia's two biggest economies.

The islands lie around 200km from Taiwan and 2,000km from Tokyo in a strategically important shipping area near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge maritime gas fields.

Taiwan has recalled its envoy from Japan in reaction to the mounting territorial row over the uninhabited islands.

Japan insists that it has only peaceful intentions behind the 2.05bn yen ($26.18m) purchase of the three islands in the East China Sea, until now leased by the government from a Japanese family that had owned them since early 1970s.

Diplomat summoned

The developments came after the Japanese ambassador to Beijing was summoned to the foreign ministry to protest against Japan's decision to buy three of the islands.

Japan said the islands would formally fall under the remit of its Coast Guard.

Japan refused to confirm the presence of the Chinese vessels, but said it would deal with them "appropriately" if they come near.

Osamu Fujimura, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said: "If they are indeed entering the waters around the Senkaku Islands, then we will demand they not cross over in to our territorial waters."

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Tokyo, Michael Penn, president of the Shingetsu News Agency, said that Japan's government acted to keep the issue under control.

"My understanding is that Prime Minister [Yoshihiko] Noda sees this as a way to actually moderate the issue," he said.

"The alternative to the government stepping in to nationalise the islands at this time was actually to let the city of Tokyo - with its very nationalist governor - take control. So I think that from Noda's point of view, this is a way of getting the issue under control, and to keep it from spinning out of control."

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, says the islands are "an inherent part of China's territory" and has pledged his country will "never ever yield an inch" of its sovereignty.

390

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A handful of agencies that provide tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea say business is growing.
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
join our mailing list