Chinese ships exploring Senkaku waters ignore ‘stay clear’ warnings

The Chinese maritime surveillance ships are becoming almost commonplace in the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, and they’re becoming almost belligerent as they ignore the Japan Coast Guard’s warnings to stay away.

Chinese vessels have been in-and-out of the contiguous zone near the East China Sea location of the Senkaku Islands, but have also entered the 12-nautical-mile band that represents Japanese territorial waters.  Ships have been in the contiguous zone since Sunday, sailing around Kubajima and Minamikojima.  Japan Coast Guard officials say the four vessels have been in the area since last Friday.

The contiguous zone extends 12 miles beyond the 12-mile territorial waters around the country.  Chinese vessels of all sorts have been working their way into the waters over the past month, including fishing vessels, maritime surveillance vessels and warships.

Tensions over the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, have been on the rise since September 11th, when Japan nationalized some of the islands. The Senkakus region has rich fishing grounds, while numerous mineral resource reserves could be beneath those same waters.