China defended the actions of two patrol boats near disputed Japanese-administered islands in the East China Sea, state media reported late Wednesday, saying the vessels were protecting Chinese fisherman.
Earlier Japan’s coastguard said two Chinese fisheries patrol boats had intruded into a 12-nautical-mile zone around the islands that Japan considers its territorial waters.
It prompted Japan’s vice Foreign minister Kenichiro Sasae to summon China’s Ambassador Cheng Yonghua in protest at the incident, Tokyo’s top government spokesman said.
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the boats were on a routine patrol and re-iterated Beijing’s claim over the islands – called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese – and which are also claimed by Taiwan.
“Our law enforcement vessels patrolled the waters to maintain normal order for our fishing vessels. China has made its stance regarding the issue clear to the Japanese side,” Ma was quoted as saying in a report by Xinhua.
“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and its adjacent islets, which have been an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times,” he added.
His comments came after a senior Japanese official said there was “no question” the islands belong to his nation.
“The Senkaku islands are an integral part of Japanese territory, historically and under international law,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.