Chinese ships enter disputed waters

Chinese ships enter disputed waters

Chinese ships enter disputed waters

Updated 21 December 2012, 15:04 AEST

Chinese state-owned ships have entered territorial waters around disputed islands in the first intrusion since a new government was elected in Tokyo.

"Three Chinese surveillance ships entered the territorial waters near Kubajima," said a Japanese coastguard official on Friday, referring to one of the islands in the Senkaku chain, known as Diaoyu in China.

The coastguard said three Chinese ships were spotted northwest of Kubajima island at around 10:20 am (0120 GMT).

A fisheries patrol ship was also in the contiguous waters 37 kilometres west-north west of Uotsurijima island, it said.

China has sent its official ships into the islands waters frequently since Tokyo nationalised the islands in September, with analysts saying Beijing intends to prove it can come and go as it pleases in the area.

Last week a Chinese plane overflew the area in what Japan said was the first time Beijing had breached its airspace since at least 1958.

But the vessels have remained outside the 12-nautical-mile ring of the archipelago's territorial waters since Sunday's election, in which Shinzo Abe swept to power, vowing a tough line on Beijing.

AFP