- Posted September 10, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
China’s Ships Near Islands on Eve of Japan Purchase Anniversary
The Chinese Coast Guard vessels were in the waters in the East China Sea as of 12:15 p.m. Japan time, the Japanese Coast Guard said in an e-mail. Japan dispatched fighter jets yesterday when an unidentified aerial drone was spotted near the islands and also deployed jets on Sept. 8 after Chinese bombers flew in international airspace between two Japanese islands.
China may be sending Japan a message before the anniversary of Japan’s purchase of three of the five islands, according to Gary Li, a senior analyst for IHS Maritime in Beijing. The purchase, which Japan said was meant to keep the islands out of the hands of a nationalistic former Tokyo governor, damaged trade between Asia’s two largest economies and posed one of the most severe tests since diplomatic ties were established in 1972.
“This high level of deployment is telling the Japanese that the Chinese are willing and able to comprehensively cover the Senkaku islands with various forms of surveillance, potentially backed up by military aircraft,” Li said, using the Japanese name for the islands. They are known as Diaoyu in Chinese.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry asked China to restrain from sending unmanned aircraft near the islands, Kyodo News reported today, without attribution.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said today that Japan had asked China if it owned the drone. He said Japan’s “basic everyday stance” was to remain alert in its sea and airspace.
“We will do everything in our power to protect the lives of the people as well as our territory, water and airspace,” Suga said.
On a visit to Beijing today, James Miller, U.S. under secretary of defense for policy, said he told Chinese officials it’s “critically important” that the dispute not be addressed through the threat or use of force.
No formal bilateral summit has been held between Japan and China for more than a year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping only spoke briefly during a Group of 20 summit in Russia last week.
Japan dispatched fighter planes Sept. 8 after two Chinese H-6 bombers flew between its main southern island of Okinawa and Miyako about 280 kilometers (174 miles) further southwest, without entering Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website yesterday. China said the flight was legal and that it would continue such maneuvers.
Japan Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera described the flight as “unusual.”
Chinese naval aircraft recently went to the western Pacific for training in a “routine” operation, China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website yesterday. The move wasn’t targeted at any country and was in line with international law, the ministry said.