China started live ammunition exercises off its east coast on Tuesday, in waters near the Zhoushan islands. The exercises are scheduled to go on for six days. The BBC Mandarin website quotes analysts as saying that the exercises are meant to serve as a warning to Japan in the currently intensifying tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. In the same news article, the BBC also quotes official Chinese media as saying that this was traditionally a season for the Chinese navy to conduct live-ammunition exercises, to improve naval combat capabilities. They were not threatening other countries. Chinese media had emphasized that the exercises were conducted in waters distant from disputed areas like the Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, part of disputes with the Philippines) or Senkaku islands (Diaoyu Islands, part of a dispute with Japan). China’s navy had conducted exercises off the Chinese east coast in 2010, too, the BBC article concludes. The current exercises’ scope was slightly expanded, compared to two years ago.
Meantime, China Youth Daily, as quoted by Enorth (Tianjin), warns its readers that the Japanese government’s little tricks (小动作) are continuing. China Youth Daily quotes a Yomiuri Shimbun article of Tuesday as saying that people may be allowed to gather on the island for memorial activities. This, Beijing Youth points out, could indicate a change in the Japanese government’s policy of not allowing Japanese citizens to enter the island.
On June 30, 1945, two ships carrying about 200 Japanese nationals left Ishigaki port for Taiwan, and were detected and sunk by U.S. military aircraft, near Senkaku Islands, writes Beijing Youth.
The Senkaku Islands are under the jurisdiction of Ishigaki (Okinawa Prefecture), and Ishigaki’s city assembly, in April, reportedly called on the central government to buy the portion of the Senkaku Islands not under central government ownership, according to Yomiuri Online. The city assembly didn’t see Ishigaki itself in a position to do so, as financial conditions didn’t warrant such a move.
While the Chinese naval exercises seem to be held several hundred kilometers north of the Senkaku Islands, three Chinese fishery patrol boats intruded into Japanese territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m on Wednesday, according to the Japanese Coast Guard as quoted by Yomiuri Online on Thursday. China reaffirms sovereignty, the English-language “Global Times” expained on Thursday.
The Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers are due to hold talks on the sidelines of the Asean forum in Cambodia over the islands, the BBC reported on Wednesday.