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China reaffirms sovereignty

(Global Times)

09:27, July 12, 2012

China reaffirmed its position on the disputed islands in the East China Sea on Wednesday, denouncing Japan's protest over Chinese fishery patrol ships' entry into waters near the islets in the latest territorial row between the two nations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reiterated Wednesday "the Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islets have always been China's territory since ancient times," while meeting his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of a series of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He urged Japan to "adhere to relevant agreements and understanding between the two sides in good faith … and take concrete actions to uphold the overall interests of the bilateral ties."

Yang's remarks came as Gemba repeated Japan's protest over three Chinese fishery patrol ships, which approached the Diaoyu Islands at around 2 am on Wednesday.

The law enforcement vessels, the Yuzheng-202, the Yuzheng-204 and the Yuzheng-35001, were conducting routine patrols of the East China Sea, said sources with the East China Sea Fishery Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ministry had earlier issued a ban on fishing in the waters from June 1 to protect fish during the spawning season.

The crews of the vessels, which had since left the islands, initially rebuffed Japanese orders to leave.

"We are conducting official duty in Chinese waters. Do not interfere. Leave China's territorial waters," the crew said, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.

Japan's foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a protest after the Chinese vessels' actions, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a press briefing, insisting on Japan's claim of sovereignty over the disputed islands.

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