Japan said Tuesday it is closely monitoring attempts by China to boost its global clout, asserting that Beijing has been dispatching medical professionals and providing face masks and assistance to other countries in response to the coronavirus pandemic so as to advance its own interests.

In a defense white paper, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government criticized Beijing for "relentlessly" attempting to undermine Tokyo's administration of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, even at a time when international coordination is required to contain the virus.

With the international community grappling with the pandemic, a further spread of the virus "may expose and intensify strategic competition among countries intending to create international and regional orders more preferable to themselves and to expand their influence," the white paper said.