TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Government vessels from China reportedly came within 24 nautical miles (44.4 kilometers) of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands on 333 days last year, including one eight-day stay by a Chinese ship in the area.
Surrounded by rich fishing grounds, the Diaoyutai Islands are located approximately 200 km southwest of Okinawa and a similar distance northeast of Taiwan. Both Taiwan and Japan have claimed jurisdiction over the uninhabited islands since the 1970s, while Beijing bases its claim on the grounds that it views Taiwan as an offshore province.
According to NHK, the number of days that Chinese official vessels sailed in the "contiguous water area" from the uninhabited islands in 2020 was the highest in history. It was 51 days more than the number recorded a year prior.
Data from the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) also show that Chinese vessels had entered waters that Japan considered as its territory 24 times last year, a slight decrease from 2019. During one of its forays into "Japanese territorial waters" in October, the Chinese vessels stayed for almost two and a half days.
JCG Commandant Takahiro Okushima observed in December that China's government vessels have in recent years become larger and are equipped with enhanced warfare capabilities. He said areas near the Diaoyutai Islands are hotspots for trouble and the Japanese government will adopt the necessary measures to protect its territory.
JCG said later that it had decided to assign eight more large patrol vessels around the Diaoyutai Islands until at least 2023. The new measure is aimed at boosting security and surveillance in the area against increasing Chinese intrusions.