Beijing responds to summit with Senkaku ships

AFP-JIJI

Two Chinese Coast Guard ships again intruded into waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Saturday, the Japanese Coast Guard said, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama declared his support for Japan.

The vessels sailed for 12 nautical miles (22 km) into territorial waters off one of the Senkaku Islands, which China and Taiwan claims as Diaoyu, and Tiaoyutai, respectively around noon, the coast guard said.

Obama announced Thursday that, under the bilateral military alliance, Washington will defend Japan if China initiates an attack in the ongoing territorial dispute.

China has already dismissed Obama’s position, saying the uninhabited islands are “China’s inherent territory.”

Chinese ships last entered the area April 12, according to coast guard sources.

Chinese vessels and aircraft have been shadowing the East China Sea archipelago — the seabed around which is thought to harbor vast natural resources — on a regular basis since Japan effectively nationalized three of the isles in September 2012, setting off a latest tensions in a long-running territorial dispute.

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have fallen to their lowest point in years.

Some observers warn that the two countries might come to blows over the islands, where ships and planes from both sides circle to press claims for ownership.