China performed live-fire military exercises in the East China Sea as part of drills the army said were routine, as tensions simmered with Japan over islands in the area claimed by both countries.
The military is conducting 10 days of exercises off the coast of Liaoning province, China Central Television reported on its website today, citing the People’s Liberation Army. Four Chinese ships entered Japanese waters around the islands, Japan’s coast guard said in an e-mailed statement.
The exercises risk further inflaming strains between the two countries a day after China filed a diplomatic protest yesterday over three Japanese cabinet ministers’ visit to a Tokyo shrine seen as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opted not to visit as Japan commemorated the anniversary of its World War II defeat, sending a donation instead
Ties with China have deteriorated since Japan bought three of five of the islands. China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, left port yesterday to take part in the training, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.
Earlier this month, China deployed ships to Japanese controlled waters around the islands for a record 28 hours, drawing a formal protest. On Aug. 14, IHS Jane’s Senior Analyst Alex Pape issued a note saying a Chinese vessel under construction, set to have a crew of 24 and a range of 12,000 nautical miles, will give China’s Coast Guard “improved stamina in ongoing territorial disputes.”