China warns Japan on 'provocation'

BEIJING • China's Foreign Ministry warned Japan yesterday not to take "provocative" action around a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, saying Tokyo would have to accept the consequences.

On Tuesday, Japan said it had told China that any foreign naval vessel entering Japanese waters for reasons other than"innocent passage" would be told to leave by a Japanese naval patrol, signalling a potential escalation in the long-running dispute.

Last year, Chinese naval ships sailed near the disputed isles, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, the Japanese government said.

Asked about the Japanese announcement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China had the right to carry out "normal navigation and patrol activities" around the islands.

"We advise Japan against taking provocative acts or doing anything to raise tensions, otherwise it will have to accept responsibility for everything that happens," he told a daily news briefing.

In an editorial yesterday, influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times said that if Japan sent in its navy, China would have to send in warships too.

"China can send as many warships to the Diaoyu islands as Japan does," said the newspaper, which is run by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily.

The dispute over the islands, which are under Japanese control, has been a major sticking point in relations between the two countries.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'China warns Japan on 'provocation''. Print Edition | Subscribe