China rejects Japan's protest over aiming radar at its ship

China rejects Japan's protest over aiming radar at its ship

A Chinese naval vessel aimed a type of radar normally used to point weapons at a target at a Japanese naval ship in the East China Sea, prompting a protest from Japan, its defense minister said yesterday.

"Projecting fire control radar is very unusual," Itsunori Onodera told reporters.

He said the incident occurred on January 30 but had taken some time to confirm.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Onodera it was important to respond calmly and not meet "provocation" with provocation, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Onodera said a similar incident may have occurred on January 19, when a Chinese naval ship may have directed so-called fire control radar at a Japanese naval helicopter.

A long-running row over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea has in recent months escalated to the point where both sides have scrambled fighter jets while patrol ships shadow each other.

A Chinese spokeswoman yesterday urged Japan to stop provocation.

"We believe that what is most urgent is for Japan to stop provocative actions like regularly sending in ships and aircraft into the waters around the Diaoyu Islands and seek, via talks with China, an effective way to appropriately control and resolve this issue," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters when asked about Chinese ships in waters near the islands.

China's Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua yesterday rejected Japan's protest over the patrol of Chinese marine surveillance vessels in waters off the islands. Cheng emphasized that the Diaoyu Islands, as well as the surrounding waters, were Chinese territory.

The ambassador made the comments in a meeting with Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki. He said Chinese marine surveillance vessels were conducting regular patrols in what were China's territorial waters.

Cheng also required Japan not to interfere with regular patrols by Chinese vessels.

Two Chinese marine surveillance ships continued to patrol the territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands on Monday, according to China's State Oceanic Administration.