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Chinese Boat Collides With Japanese Patrol Vessels Off Disputed Islands

TOKYO : A Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese patrol vessels Tuesday near a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries, after repeated warnings from Japan's coast guard
PTI September 07, 2010 17:07 IST
PTI
TOKYO : A Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese patrol vessels Tuesday near a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries, after repeated warnings from Japan's coast guard to move out of the waters, officials said.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Beijing had formally lodged a protest with Japan over the incident and warned it could take further action.

No injuries were reported from the two separate collisions that occurred within 40 minutes, Japan Coast Guard spokesman Yosuke Oi said. The two Japanese patrol vessels sustained minor damage on the outside. It was unclear if the Chinese ship was damaged.

After hours of chase, the Chinese boat finally stopped, allowing some 20 Japanese coast guard officials to board it for inspection, which was continuing Tuesday night, Oi said. Nobody has been arrested.

The collisions happened in Japanese territorial waters off the northwestern coast of Japan's Kuba island, just north of uninhabited, disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. About 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of Taiwan, the islands are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The collisions occurred after the Japanese patrol vessels ordered the Chinese ship to stop for an onsite inspection over alleged violation of international fishing laws after it repeatedly ignored earlier warnings to exit the area, Oi said.

The Chinese trawler, carrying a crew of 15, first collided with the Japanese patrol boat Yonakuni at around 10:15 a.m. (0115 GMT), slightly damaging its stern. About 40 minutes later, the Chinese fishing boat made a sudden turn and collided into another patrol vessel, the Mizuki, causing a dent on its starboard side and damaging its railings, Oi said.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, told a regular news conference Tuesday that Beijing had been in contact with Japan over the incident and was concerned about the situation.

Jiang said China reiterated its claim to the Diaoyu Islands and its adjacent islets and urged Japanese patrol boats in the area against any "so-called law enforcement activities or any actions that would jeopardize Chinese fishing boats or Chinese people." "We are keeping a close eye on the developments and reserve the right to make a further response," she said.

Japanese officials do not believe the boat is carrying any activists attempting to make a political statement on the island, Oi said.

Japan has lodged a protest with China several times over the entry of Chinese vessels into waters near the islands. Activists from Hong Kong and Taiwan have also sailed to the islands to make territorial claims. AP