A collision between a Chinese fishing boat and a Greece-flagged merchant ship near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea early Thursday led to a rescue operation by the Japan Coast Guard and a note of thanks from Beijing.

The coast guard rescued six Chinese crew members and was searching for eight missing, the agency said, after the fishing boat sank.

The boat collided with the 300-meter-long bulk carrier Anangel Courage about 65 km off Uotsuri Island, the largest in the Senkaku group of islets, just after 5 a.m.