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Number of Chinese vessels entering contiguous zone of disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands reached record level in first half of 2021

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 in the first half of the year, while China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels also set a record for the number of days maintaining a continuous presence in the same waters.

Data recently 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 642 times between 1 January and 30 June: the highest figure since record-keeping began in 2008 and an increase of 6.3% compared with the previous record of 604 times set during the same period in 2020.

The data also shows that the CCG has maintained an uninterrupted presence in the contiguous zone since 13 February, setting a new record on 4 June for the longest continued presence of Chinese government vessels in these waters. By 7 July Chinese vessels had been in these waters for 145 consecutive days.

The previous record for a continued Chinese presence in the contiguous zone – 111 days – had been set between 14 April and 2 August 2020.

β€œThis is an extremely serious situation,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato in a press conference held on 4 June in response to the extended presence of Chinese government ships near the islands.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi added, β€œWe cannot accept these unilateral attempts to change the status quo through aggression.”

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