The Straits Times
Published on Sep 14, 2012

Japanese, Chinese ships exchange island warnings


TOKYO (AP) - Chinese and Japanese government ships exchanged warnings on Friday in waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea, while Tokyo called on Beijing to protect its citizens amid anti-Japan protests and reported assaults in China.

Tensions between the Asian giants have flared anew after the Japanese government bought the islands from their private Japanese owners this week. The uninhabited islands, claimed by both countries as well as Taiwan and called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, have become a rallying point for nationalists on both sides.

In response to Japan's purchase, China on Friday sent six surveillance ships into what Japan says are its territorial waters around the islands. After Japanese coast guard ships radioed warnings to the Chinese vessels, two or three moved beyond the territorial waters but the others remained within the 19km-zone around the islets, said Mr Yasuhiko Oku, a Japanese coast guard official.