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Recent tension centers on the Diaoyu Islands


01-13-2015 03:51 BJT

In September 2012, the Japanese government unilaterally pronounced the apparent "purchasing" of three of the disputed Diaoyu Islands from their so-called "private owner".

The move enraged China, which has long claimed sovereignty over the islands. It led to what has been described as "the most serious situation for Sino-Japanese relations in the post-war period, in terms of the risk of militarized conflict." 

Soon after the move by Japan, ten Chinese marine surveillance ships and four fishery administration ships entered waters near the Diaoyu Islands to reinforce China's claim to sovereignty, and to protect Chinese fishing operations. Japan sent six patrol ships and three planes to follow the Chinese ships.

On December 13, 2012, a Chinese surveillance plane flew over the Diaoyu Islands, in what was described as a routine patrol. In response, Japan scrambled eight F-15 fighter jets and an early warning aircraft in an attempt to intercept the plane. The incident passed without direct confrontation, but it put further strain on already volatile China-Japan relations. 

Throughout 2013, Chinese maritime police vessels entered the 12-nautical-mile sea area around the Diaoyu Islands 54 times. Air encounters between the two sides continued to rise.

On November 23, 2013, China set up the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which included the Diaoyu Islands. China announced that it would require all aircraft entering the zone to file a flight plan and submit radio frequency or transponder information. 

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