Beijing/Tokyo: A war of words erupted between China and Japan Wednesday after a group of Japanese right-wingers entered the disputed islands and Chinese surveillance ships also patrolled in the waters.
Japan claims it has occupied the islands since 1895, while China maintains the islands were recognised as Chinese as early as 1783.
On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said the country`s marine surveillance ships will continue to patrol in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands.
The Chinese reaction came in response to a question related to a media report saying Japanese right-wingers entered waters off the Diaoyu Islands Wednesday. Chinese marine surveillance ships also entered the waters for a patrol, Xinhua reported.
Tokyo has lodged an official protest with Beijing over Chinese ships entering the territorial waters of disputed islands in the East China Sea, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.
Four Chinese maritime surveillance ships were observed near the territorial waters of the Japanese held islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyus in China, Wednesday morning, according to Japan`s NHK TV report.
Chinese Foreign Ministry`s spokesperson Hong Lei said: "China is closely watching the development of the issue. Chinese marine surveillance ships will continue to patrol in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands."
China firmly opposes the Japanese right-wingers` illegal entrance to the waters off the islands, he said.
"What is the right-wingers` purpose in repeatedly provoking trouble on the Diaoyu Islands under the current situation, especially when China and Japan are busily consulting with each other on the dispute? Why is the Japanese government again indulging them," the spokesperson asked.
In recent years, it has been Japanese right-wingers that have sought to use the Diaoyu Islands issue and create provocation and cause tensions and conflicts between China and Japan, Hong said.
Relations between the two countries have plummeted to their lowest level recently over their claims to the islands.
The islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan, potentially contain large reserves of hydrocarbons.