Japanese navy destroyer enters China waters near Taiwan, sparking Beijing’s concerns

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A Japanese navy destroyer made a rare entry into China’s territorial waters near Taiwan earlier this month without notifying China and sparking “serious concerns” from Beijing, Japanese media outlets reported late on Wednesday.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer Suzutsuki sailed into China’s waters off Zhejiang province on July 4, where China had announced it would conduct naval drills, Kyodo news agency said citing diplomatic sources.

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Suzutsuki, tasked to monitor Chinese missile exercises in the East China Sea north of Taiwan, entered the waters without notifying China, broadcaster NTV reported citing sources in Japan’s defence ministry.

The destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) of the Zhejiang coast for about 20 minutes despite warnings by Chinese vessels, and Beijing expressed “serious concerns” to Tokyo, Kyodo said.

Japan’s defence ministry has launched an investigation questioning the captain of Suzutsuki and the crew’s intention remains unclear, Kyodo said.

China’s coast guard and naval vessels have entered Japan’s territorial waters, including June last year when Tokyo lodged a protest against Beijing after the Chinese navy sailed into Japanese waters near Yakushima island.

In December, the Chinese military said a US Navy ship “illegally” entered waters adjacent to a disputed South China Sea atoll that has recently seen several maritime confrontations with neighbors including the Philippines.

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