Heightened maritime activity was seen in waters off China and Japan as a both US destroyer and a Chinese vessel were sailing in the region, triggering counter-measures.
According to Japan’s Defense Ministry, a surveying Chinese navy vessel entered the country’s territorial waters on Tuesday night around the southwestern Kagoshima province.
The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the Chinese vessel left the area after about three hours as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Coast Guard “monitored the passage of the Chinese vessel.”
It is the first such alleged intrusion by a Chinese vessel into Japanese waters since last November as Tokyo has accused Beijing of illegally entering its maritime boundaries in the East China Sea.
Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a dispute over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu.
Meanwhile, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said it followed the passage of a US destroyer when it sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
Calling it a “provocation by the US,” the army’s Eastern Theater Command said the USS Sampson guided missile destroyer “intentionally sabotaged peace and stability in the region.”
Aircraft and vessels were dispatched by the People’s Liberation Army to the southwest and northeast of the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday to shadow the passage of the US warship.
“Repeated US provocations like this send wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, intentionally sabotage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and the theater command strongly opposes this,” a People’s Liberation Army spokesperson told the state-run Global Times daily.
According to a statement by the US 7th Fleet Command in the Asia-Pacific, the USS Sampson “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit” through international waters “in accordance with international law.”
“The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the statement added.