TOKYO: Three Chinese government ships sailed into waters around disputed islands controlled by Tokyo on Friday, for the first time since May, Japan’s coastguard said.
The Chinese maritime surveillance vessels were spotted inside the 12-nautical-mile zone off the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea shortly before 9:30 a.m. (3 a.m. Manila time), the coastguard said.
Chinese government ships have frequently plied the contiguous waters—a zone outside territorial waters—near the disputed islands, but it was the first time they had entered Japanese-controlled waters since May 26, the coast- guard said.
Ships from the two sides have been involved in a chronic standoff as Beijing and Tokyo jostle over ownership of the strategically important and resource-rich islands.
A territorial row that dates back four decades reignited last September when Tokyo nationalized three islands in the chain, in what it said was a mere administrative change of ownership.