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China ‘sharpens response’, starts military exercises near disputed islands

RT [1]
October 19, 2012

The Chinese navy is set to begin joint military exercises on Friday in the East China Sea. The exercises will take place on the doorstep of the islands at the heart of the recent tensions between Japan and the mainland.

The exercises were announced on Thursday, and will include vessels from the Chinese fishing agency and maritime surveillance. China’s Xinhua news agency reported that a total of 11 navy vessels and eight naval aircraft will participate in the maneuvers, “improving coordination between the navy and administrative patrol vessels and sharpening their response to emergencies in missions to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime interests,” according to a Chinese navy statement.

The latest round of saber-rattling comes amid high tensions in the East China Sea following the Japanese acquisition of several disputed islands in September. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have long been administered by the Japanese, but are claimed by China, as well as Taiwan.

After the Japanese government purchased the islands from a private owner on September 5, tensions in the region escalated dramatically. Chinese and Taiwanese flotillas immediately set sail for the islands, only to be pummeled by Japanese water cannons.

Xinhua also quoted the Chinese fleet statement as saying that fishing patrol vessels in the area had been “stalked, harassed and even intentionally interfered with by foreign vessels, greatly challenging their duties.”
Chinese fishing boats have repeatedly claimed territorial fishing rights in the region.

Full story here. [1]