Beijing: Tensions between China and Japan over the disputed islands escalated as both countries exchanged diplomatic protests over what Tokyo called as Beijing`s longest incursion in the East China Sea.
Japan yesterday summoned Chinese diplomat after four Chinese ships were spotted in waters around the islands on Thursday morning, three of which have been there for over 28 hours.
The stay is "the longest" since Tokyo`s "purchase" of the islets and is "extremely regrettable," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
In its counter protest, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said a Japanese ship carrying several nationalists had illegally entered the country`s waters.
Chinese coastguard ships have warned the Japanese ship to leave the area, he said in a statement.
The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Japan have made representations to the Japanese government and expressed their outrage at the presence of the Japanese vessel, official media here reported.
Hong has reiterated that the Islands called Daioyu by Beijing and Senkakus by Tokyo belong to China and Chinese vessels have the right to patrol the area.
He called on Japan to stop all provocation and to make real efforts to resolve the territorial dispute.
Hong confirmed that a fleet of ships from the China Coast Guard recently patrolled the country`s territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands.
This is the first time that China has pressed its newly formed CCG into the disputed waters.
The CCG was formed last month merging China`s maritime law enforcement functions of four agencies responsible for fisheries administration, maritime surveillance, customs enforcement and border control.
China`s State Oceanic Administration claimed that four-ship fleet from the CCG spotted a Japanese ship sailing there and drove it away from China`s territorial waters.