Chinese patrol vessels spotted near Senkaku Islands

Kyodo

Two Chinese fisheries patrol vessels were spotted Sunday morning sailing in waters in the contiguous zone near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China also claims, the Japan Coast Guard said.

The ships — the Yuzheng 202 and Yuzheng 35001 — entered the zone at around 9 a.m. and left it about 30 minutes later. It was the second time this year that Chinese fishery patrol ships have been spotted within the zone, following an incident on Jan. 14.

When a patrol ship from the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, inquired by radio about the purpose of their voyage in the waters, the Chinese responded that they were engaging in ordinary patrol activities, it said.

The Chinese vessels, initially spotted when about 42 km north-northeast off Kuba Island, part of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, sailed northeast and did not enter Japan’s territorial waters, the coast guard said.

Nations can exercise limited control in their contiguous zones, which lie between their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, to block or punish infringements of customs, fiscal, immigration and sanitation laws.