BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday hit back at Japan’s territorial claims over disputed waters in the East China Sea, calling the move a “serious violation” of China’s sovereignty.
“Chinese coast guard ships carried out law enforcement on the scene in accordance with the law, it is a legitimate measure to protect Chinese sovereignty,” spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters during a regular press briefing.
Wang made the remarks in response to a question about the Japanese Coast Guard, which said that Chinese coast guard vessels have violated Japan’s territorial waters around the disputed East China Sea islands.
Both China and Japan claim the area, and it has long been a sticking point in bilateral relations. China calls the islands the Diaoyu while Japan calls them the Senkaku.
The Chinese Coast Guard said on Wednesday that it had entered the waters around the disputed East China Sea islands to counter what it described as the incursion of Japanese ships into Chinese territorial waters.
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China’s Maritime Police spokesman Gan Yu said in a statement that coast guard vessels had entered the waters of the Diaoyu River on a “natural rights protection patrol”, describing it as a “routine move”.
“(This is also）a strong countermeasure to the Japanese side’s interference of one yacht and several patrol vessels in our territorial waters,” Gan said, but did not specify any incident.
The Chinese coast guard said in late January that the Shinsei Maru and four other Japanese vessels illegally entered the territorial waters of the Diaoyu Islands before the Chinese coast guard vessels turned away.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will hold a summit with South Korean President Yoon Sok Yul in Tokyo, the first such meeting in Japan in more than a decade, at a time when the United States hopes the neighbors can form a united summit. front against Beijing.
(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and the Beijing newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra and Christina Fincher
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