Chinese official says ‘no time limit’ on ships sailing near Senkakus

Kyodo

The head of China’s Oceanic Administration has said there is “no time limit” on Chinese patrol vessels sailing near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, a Hong Kong newspaper reported Sunday.

The Ming Pao daily, in a report from Beijing, quoted Oceanic Administration Secretary Liu Cigui as saying it is “important” for China to “safeguard” China’s claim to the islands, which are called Diaoyu by China.

Liu, a former official in Fujian Province in China’s southeast, was promoted to the Oceanic Administration early last year, the newspaper said.

He also called Hong Kong activists who have landed on the disputed islands in the past “patriots,” the Ming Pao reported.

Earlier, in Naha, the Japan Coast Guard said Chinese surveillance vessels sailed Sunday in an area just outside Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, a major source of recent friction between the two countries, for the 23rd straight day since Oct. 20.

Since Wednesday, four Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have been in the contiguous zone near the group of islets in the East China Sea, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

The coast guard said it warned the Chinese vessels over the radio not to enter Japanese territorial waters. But one of the vessels responded that it was on a regular patrol of areas administrated by China.