TOKYO - Japanese officials are pondering the meaning of a Chinese navy spy ship's passage near disputed East China Sea islets, a move some think is connected with Beijing's self-declared air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over that body of water.
A Japanese P-3C reconnaissance plane spotted the Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel, pennant number 855, on the evening of Nov. 11 south of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese claim and call the Diaoyu.
Chinese maritime police are not an uncommon sight in these waters, but this marked the first time that a People's Liberation Army Navy vessel was seen sailing there.
The ship gave an evasive response when asked the purpose of its passage. It left the area the following night.
Japan's Defence Ministry went public with the ship's "peculiar" activity. What caught officials' eye was its route. The vessel sailed one-and-a-half laps through the waters from east to west before departing westward.
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