China’s dispute with Japan over small islands it controls in the East China Sea is heating up again, with both sides accusing each other of violating their territorial waters.
China says the islands belong to it and refuses to recognize Japan’s claim on the uninhabited chain known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese. Taiwan also claims the islands, which it calls the Diaoyutai, but has signed an access agreement with Japan for its fishermen and does not actively participate in the dispute.
China regularly sends coast guard ships and aircraft into the waters and airspace surrounding the islands to harass Japanese ships in the area and force Japan to send jets in response.
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On Wednesday, a Chinese coast guard spokesman said Chinese ships had “dispelled some Japanese vessels that illegally entered territorial waters.” The unnamed official said its moves were routine measures to protect sovereignty and maritime interests.
Japan’s coast guard said on Thursday that Chinese coast guard vessels were violating Japanese territorial waters around the islands and had been repeatedly requested to leave and not approach Japanese fishing boats operating in the area. .
Unlike islands in the busy South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely, the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain between Okinawa and Taiwan is of little strategic importance. However, China has made the celebration a cause in its campaign to rally nationalism based on memories of Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation of much of China that ended in 1945.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida were meeting in Tokyo on Thursday for talks that focused on their shared sense of building a united front on North Korea and China with their mutual ally, the United States. underlines.
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Chinese incursions by Chinese military ships into the waters surrounding the islands figured in wide-ranging January discussions in Washington between President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The talks come as Japan dramatically increases defense spending and seeks to build security cooperation with allies at a time of provocative Chinese and North Korean military actions.
The US is also strengthening alliances in the Indo-Pacific region to deal with new threats, including providing nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, expanding access to Philippine bases and increasing defense cooperation with Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy China in its region. Claims as to be brought under its control by force if necessary.
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