China Coast Guard’s 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan

China Coast Guard's 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan
China Coast Guard's 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan/Reuters
China Coast Guard's 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan
China Coast Guard's 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan/Reuters

China Coast Guard’s 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan

China Coast Guard’s 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan

China Coast Guard’s 158-Day Presence Near Disputed Islands Raises Tensions with Japan

Key Highlights:

  1. Chinese Coast Guard’s record 158-day presence near disputed islands.
  2. Japan’s serious concerns raised at a trilateral meeting with South Korea.
  3. Persistent tensions in East Asian hotspots, including Taiwan and the South China Sea.

China’s Coast Guard ships have maintained a presence in the waters surrounding Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea for a record 158 days, breaking the previous record set in 2021, reported CNN citing Tokyo’s most recent count. The uninhabited islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, have long been a contentious issue between the two countries, raising concerns about potential hostilities.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi stated at a Monday briefing in Tokyo that the Japanese government takes the continuous presence of Chinese vessels in the contiguous zone and their trespassing into territorial waters very seriously. While foreign ships are allowed “innocent passage” through Japan’s territorial waters, the frequency of Chinese ship visits was not specified. Although the Chinese Coast Guard has not violated international accords, their persistent presence is viewed as provocative.

During a trilateral meeting with South Korea in Seoul, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed Tokyo’s “serious concerns” to Chinese Premier Li Gongmin. Hayashi reiterated Japan’s commitment to taking every possible precaution and maintaining surveillance around the Senkaku Islands with a sense of urgency.

The Senkaku Islands have been a significant point of contention in Japan-China relations. Both nations claim the islands as part of their national heritage, with historical claims extending back centuries. Tensions heightened when Tokyo purchased some of the islands from a private Japanese owner in 2012, which Beijing saw as a direct threat to its sovereignty claims. In response, China has regularly sent its Coast Guard and other government ships to the waters surrounding the islands to bolster its claims.

China’s increased presence around the Senkaku Islands coincides with its activities in other East Asian hotspots, including Taiwan and the South China Sea. Following the swearing-in of Taiwan’s newly elected President Lai Ching-te, China conducted its largest military drills of the year. Taiwan, while never under Chinese authority, is claimed by the ruling Communist Party of China, which has threatened to annex the island by force if necessary.

Additionally, the China Coast Guard has been using water cannons to disrupt and damage Filipino vessels attempting to resupply a contingent of Philippine marines on Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, further escalating regional tensions.

(Inputs from CNN)

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