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China Coast Guard maintaining continuous presence near Senkaku/Diaoyu islands since mid-April

The number of Chinese government vessels spotted in the contiguous zone of the Japanese-controlled but Chinese-claimed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands hit a record high between January and the end of May, with China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels now also maintaining a continuous presence in those waters since mid-April.

Data released by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) shows that Chinese government vessels entered the 24 n mile (44 km) contiguous zone around the disputed uninhabited islets in the East China Sea a total of 495 times between 1 January and 31 May: the highest figure since record-keeping began in 2008, and an increase of 18% compared with the previous record of 418 ships set during the same period in 2019.

At the same time the data shows that Chinese government vessels have maintained an uninterrupted presence in the contiguous zone since 14 April, setting a new record in mid-June for their longest continued presence in these waters, a spokesperson for the JCG’s 11th regional headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, told Janes on 22 June.

The previous record for continued Chinese presence in the contiguous zone had been set between 12 April and 14 June 2019, a total of 64 days.

The publication of the data comes after the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) confirmed that a submerged foreign submarine navigated through waters just outside Japan’s territorial waters on 18 June, with defence officials later saying they suspect the submarine belonged to the China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

JMSDF destroyers and patrol planes first spotted the submarine in the contiguous zone northeast of Amami-Oshima Island in Japan’s southwestern Kagoshima Prefecture, with Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials saying it was moving west and that the JMSDF kept it under observation.

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