Chinese navy vessels spotted close to Japanese coast
By J Michael Cole
A Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) patrol aircraft spotted three Chinese warships on 29 April as they made a rare crossing through the Osumi strait off Kagoshima prefecture towards the Pacific Ocean, Japanese officials have confirmed.
The Type 054A missile frigates Zhoushan and Xuzhou and the electronic reconnaissance and missile tracking ship Beijixing were seen 430 km west of the island of Yakushima in Kagoshima prefecture, the JMSDF said. The vessels then travelled from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean through the 30 km-wide Osumi strait.
It was the first time in nine years that People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels were confirmed to have entered the strait, which lies between Cape Sata on Kyushu and the island of Tanegashima. Although China is allowed under international law to navigate these waters, the JMSDF said the crossing was "unusual" and that it would increase its monitoring of the area.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defence said the ships were en route to an exercise in the West Pacific, that their route was routine and in line with international law and that the manoeuvre was not unusual and did not target any country.193 of 240 words
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