China has dispatched two of its maritime security vessels to patrol the waters of disputed islands in the Pacific Ocean, amid attempts by Japanese politicians to buy land there.
China's fishery administration, which also has ships equipped with weapons, said it sent two of its vessels into waters near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea also called Senkaku islands by Japan.
"Our vessels are conducting routine patrols. We have every right to do so," a press official with the Regional Bureau of East China Sea Fishery Management told the state-run Global Times. They are expected to be there until May 9.
Japan, which has administrative control over the uninhabited islands, protested against Chinese patrols on waters 30 km northwest of the Islands, saying it is the fourth time that Chinese vessels have appeared in the area.
Reports in the Japanese media said Chinese vessels claimed that they are in their own territory after Japanese patrol ships warned them to stay away from "Japanese territorial waters."
The Chinese move came as Tokyo metropolitan government said it had received about $934,000 in donations from people in five days to help buy the islands after it opened a special account on Friday.
Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara said last month that Tokyo is negotiating with the owner of three of the five Japanese-controlled main uninhabited islands to purchase them by the end of this year.
The Chinese foreign ministry said that Japanese unilateral action violates China's lawful ownership of these islands, and maintained that China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands.
Yang Bojiang, director of Japanese Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that the continuous provocative actions demonstrate the unbalanced stance taken in Japanese society toward China.
"Japan is growing more reliant on China in the economy but competitive in politics and military power. The actions by these Japanese officials have strong political purposes. They are trying to win wider support," Yang said.
Besides the disputes over the Diaoyu islands with Japan, China is grappling with similar dispute with Philippines over yet another island dispute in the South China Sea.
Both Philippines and China lined up their naval vessels in a stand off which is continuing for the third week.