Twelve Chinese vessels have moved to the waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea to patrol and enforce the law, according to Chinese state media.
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Tensions are mounting over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, just one day after the anniversary of Japan’s 1931 occupation of China. Twelve Chinese vessels reportedly arrived in the waters around the islands today, and some fear there is potential of pushing rhetoric to the next level between China and Japan, which have two of the best-equipped militaries in the region.
On Sunday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the territorial dispute could lead to a “violent conflict.” In comments made on his way to a weeklong trip to the Asia-Pacific region, he told reporters:
I am concerned that when these countries engage in provocations of one kind or another over these various islands, that it raises the possibility that a misjudgment on one side or the other could result in violence, and could result in conflict.
The Chinese vessels – a combination of fishing patrol boats and surveillance ships – were reportedly sent to the Diaoyu islands, as the Chinese refer to the territory, or Senkaku, as they are known in Japan, in order to “conduct patrol and law enforcement,” reports China’s state media outlet, the People’s Daily. The first boats began to arrive yesterday afternoon. “This is the largest marine patrol in China’s history,” the paper wrote.
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