Chinese ships return to disputed waters after Obama's Tokyo visit

Chinese ships return to disputed waters after Obama's Tokyo visit
Japan Coast Guard vessel PS206 Houou sails in front of Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this August 18, 2013 file photo.

TOKYO - Two Chinese coastguard ships sailed into waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea Saturday, the Japanese coastguard said, two days after US President Barack Obama delared his support for Japan.

The vessels entered 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) into Japan's territorial waters off one of the Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus, around noon (0300 GMT), the coastguard said.

It was the first such move since Obama announced Thursday that Washington would defend Japan, under the bilateral military alliance, if China initiates an attack in the tense territorial dispute.

China has already dismissed Obama's position, saying that the islands are "China's inherent territory." Chinese ships last entered the area on April 12, according to the Japanese coastguard.

Chinese vessels and aircraft regularly approach the East China Sea archipelago - thought to harbour vast natural resources - after Japan nationalised some of the islands in September 2012, setting off the latest spate of incidents in a long-running territorial dispute.

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have fallen to their lowest point for years.

Some observers warn they might come to blows over the islands, where ships from both sides lurk to press claims for ownership.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

SHOPPING

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.