Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

China defends deployment of naval ship to Japan-claimed islands

China defends deployment of naval ship to Japan-claimed islands

Beijing has called on Japanese authorities to avoid creating "artificial" incidents around the group of disputed, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China.

Earlier in the day, the Japanese Kyodo news agency reported, citing the country's Defense Ministry, that a Chinese frigate and an unidentified foreign submarine had been detected outside Japanese territorial waters near the islands.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the submarine surfaced Thursday flying a Chinese flag on its mast.

In a news conference on Thursday, Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, declared that the islands were a part of Beijing's territory and warned Japan to stop complicating the issue, reported NHK World.

Ministry officials say the submarine apparently belongs to the Chinese Navy, as a Chinese frigate was spotted nearby. It does not include the contiguous zone, where a coastal state is afforded some law enforcement rights under global law.

Japan has complained to China after a pair of the country's vessels sailed this week near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan saw foreign submarines navigating in its contiguous zone in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Meanwhile, the Chinese frigate was spotted in the contiguous zone near the isle on Thursday morning. Both vessels had left the area by Thursday afternoon.

The incident comes just days after four China Coast Guard vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the disputed islets.

The warship and the submarine had left the waters by the afternoon, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua at the Foreign Ministry to express grave concern about the move, the ministry said in a statement.

China's timing is equally unusual given the fact that Japan is hoping to improve relations between both nations.

In 2004, the government ordered an SDF maritime security operation after a Chinese nuclear submarine intruded into Japanese waters around the Saki-shima island chain, southern Japan.

The Chinese ambassador responded to the protest by reiterating China's stance on the islands, the statement added.

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