China’s coast guard vessels completed a record-long deployment to the territorial waters off the Japan -controlled Senkaku Islands on Sunday after refusing orders to leave for 80 hours and 36 minutes, Japanese maritime authorities said.
Four white hull China Coast Guard vessels entered the waters around the disputed islands on Thursday morning local time and stayed in the area until late on Sunday, according to the Japanese coast guard’s 11th regional headquarters in Naha, Okinawa.
The uninhabited islets in the East China Sea have been a long-running point of friction between Tokyo and Beijing. China’s leaders, who call the islands Diaoyu, sanctioned the patrol as Japan’s top diplomat arrived in Beijing for talks over the weekend.
Taiwan also claims the islands as Diaoyutai, but more than a decade of warming ties between Taipei and Tokyo have largely prevented similar flare-ups. The two governments signed a resource sharing agreement in 2013.
The Japan Coast Guard said the Chinese boats harassed a pair of Japanese fishing boats around the island chain in what was now a routine practice . At least one of the Chinese vessels was armed with an “autocannon,” the statement said, in the 67th consecutive day of such operations in the territorial waters or the adjoining contiguous zone of the Senkakus.
The duration of the weekend’s intrusion was the longest since Chinese maritime security boats stayed near the Senkakus for 72 hours and 45 minutes on December 22-25.
China claims the Senkakus via its separate claim to Taiwan—they belong to one of the island’s counties, according to Beijing’s laws. Its coast guard vessels significantly ramped up the rarely interrupted sovereignty patrols after Japan nationalized the islands in 2012.
“Since then, China has been using this as an excuse to send the coast guard and other agencies’ ships into Japan’s contiguous zone almost every day except for stormy weather days , and these ships intrude into Japanese territorial waters several times a month,” Japan’s foreign ministry said on its website.
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