On Friday, Nov. 25, a Chinese coast guard vessel with the largest cannon ever seen on such a ship crossed Japanese territorial seas near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, according to the Japanese coast guard.
The disputed Senkaku Islands, also known as Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese, are uninhabited islands currently controlled by Japan. China and Taiwan have been claiming sovereignty over the islands for some time.
Chinese Vessel Alerts Japanese Coast Guard
As reported by the South China Morning Post, four Chinese coastguard ships, along with the vessel, were spotted in waters off Japan-controlled uninhabited islets claimed by China. This comes just days after the leaders of the two Asian economies met for the first time since 2019.
On Nov. 17, President Xi Jinping met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Bangkok. The Japanese leader told the media that he spoke with the Chinese leader about his concerns about regional security.
At roughly 2:35 a.m. on Friday, two ships sailed into Japanese territorial waters, the second ship coming after the first. Two more ships arrived at around 10 a.m., one of which was armed with a 76-mm cannon, according to the Japanese coast guard’s report. Local reports tell us China’s 76-millimeter cannon is its biggest naval gun.
Chinese government ships have breached Japanese maritime borders 32 times this year. For 23 days in a row, Chinese ships have been detected in the region around the Senkaku Islands, including in the contiguous zone.
The largest cannon the Japan Coast Guard had ever seen mounted on a Chinese ship of this type was a 37 mm model up until earlier this month.
As per a Japan Times report, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno blasted Beijing later that day, claiming that the Chinese coast guard’s marine activities are illegal under international law.
There has long been conflict between the two East Asian nations over the Senkaku Islands. The islets, known as Diaoyu in China, are still considered by Japan as a vital part of its territory.
China and Japan, as close neighbors and key Asian and global players, have many mutual interests and plenty of room for collaboration. Following the historic meeting in Bangkok, Chinese official media claimed that China is ready to collaborate with Japan to maintain the bilateral relationship on track from a strategic perspective.
Reuters reports that as Beijing advances its claims over Taiwan, regional tensions have increased in the region. China held war drills close to Taiwan in August and has never renounced using force to annex the island.
In August, Japan also filed a diplomatic protest when five ballistic missiles fired by the Chinese military landed in its exclusive economic zone close to the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.
Stay posted for more updates on the matter.