Chinese spy ship enters Japan's waters while tailing Indian ships

The RIMPAC 2012 multilateral exercise

The Japanese government on Wednesday said a separate Chinese navy observation ship entered its territorial waters south of its southern Kyushu island.

Last week Japan expressed a strong vow to protect its territory following the passage of a Chinese naval vessel close to islands claimed by both countries.

A Dongdiao-class intelligence vessel entered territorial waters west of Kagoshima Prefecture's Kuchinoerabu Island about 3:30 a.m., ignoring warnings from Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Chinese authorities have responded to the concerns from the Japanese government over a Chinese warship in waters off Japan's southwestern coast.

The strongly-worded statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), released by the Malaysian foreign ministry, did not name China directly but warned against raising tension in the waters, where Beijing has been building artificial islands and increasing its military presence.

As part of these latest drills, the Stennis joined nine other Japanese and Indian vessels along the edge of the East China Sea, near the Okinawan island chain.

Through the end of this week, Japan will participate in an advanced combined naval exercise called Malabar in the Philippine Sea.

Pentagon officials have expressed concern in recent weeks over China's posture in the region after US military aircraft encountered multiple close intercepts by Chinese military jets in the skies over the South China Sea. And the US has been working to deepen strategic ties with India and to encourage New Delhi to play a more active role, not just in the Indian Ocean but also in the Pacific, as China's rise shifts the regional balance of power.

Malabar began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the USA but has expanded in recent years to include Japan.

But we also can not ignore what is happening in the South China Sea as it is an important issue in the relations and cooperation between ASEAN and China.

Chinese officials have responded by claiming that they acted along the rights of global maritime law. By remaining in the contiguous zone, China showed either a de facto recognition of Japan's claims or that it was unwilling to risk a militarized response from Japan and its ally the U.S. In return, the Chinese have earned increased vigilance by Japan and confirmation of the U.S. security guarantee. The Chinese navy had also shadowed the American aircraft carrier John C. Stennis all the way from the South China Sea.

If China believed its warships were "passing through waters under the country's own jurisdiction", they would not have so scrupulously avoided Japan's claimed territorial waters around the Senkakus.

While it may look like China was probing the Senkakus to escalate its dispute with Japan in the East China Sea, it actually revealed how weak its position in the dispute really is.

A hotly contested region through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the South China Sea is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Warships from the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have begun to routinely shadow U.S. Navy ships through much of the region.

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