In our 17 April Courcy’s Intelligence Brief main briefing – A dialogue of the deaf in East Asia – we cited the 16 April Chinese incursion into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands (claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands) as just the latest example of escalating Chinese bellicosity in the East and South China Seas. It appears that our description of the incident may have understated its severity.
The Kyodo News Service account of this incident, which was the 37th intrusion by Chinese government ships since September 2012, stated the following:
“The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, said the Chinese vessels entered Japanese waters at around 9.00 am and stayed until about 6.00 pm. The Japan Coast Guard warned the vessels by radio to leave but they did not respond.”
Quoting China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA), China’s official Xinhua news agency provides a slightly different, and more alarming, account. Far from “not responding”, Xinhua says the Chinese surveillance ships (according to SOA) “declared to Japanese ships in the area that the Diaoyu Islands are part of Chinese territory and urged them to immediately leave the waters” [our emphasis added].
Furthermore, the following day (17 April), two vessels of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy followed up the intrusion by the marine surveillance ships by patrolling the territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands.
According to Xinhua: “Missile destroyer Lanzhou and missile frigate Hengshui, both from the Navy’s Nanhai Fleet, entered the sea area via Miyako Strait on Tuesday night.” It added that the ships had “conducted open-sea offence and defence training as well as exercises in intercepting and searching illegal vessels in the western Pacific Ocean on Sunday and Monday”.