Chinese experts say Russia’s activities near the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands) – claimed by both China and Japan – are a ‘warning’ to Tokyo over its sanctions on Russia for invasion of Ukraine.
Japan’s defense ministry said Chinese and Russian warships were spotted sailing near the disputed islands in the East China Sea on Monday morning. The Chinese frigate involved is a Type 053H3 frigate, equipped with YJ-83 anti-ship missiles, HHQ-7 air defense missiles and 37mm-caliber guns.
Japan has "lodged a protest" with China after the incident, which was the first time since June 2016 when Chinese and Russian naval vessels had been spotted entering the contiguous zone at around the same time, Kyodo News reported.
A number of Russian warships circumnavigated Japan in June.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at Monday's regular press conference that the Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territories. Chinese vessels' maritime activities in waters off the islands are fully legitimate, and Japan has no right to make irresponsible accusations, he said.
Zhou said that “Russia, which is having a military operation against Ukraine, has island disputes with Japan, and Russian naval activities in the West Pacific aim at deterring Japan from taking reckless moves.”
Russia's recent moves serve as a warning to Japan amid Japanese sanctions on Russia, and aim to ease Western pressure on Russia because of the Ukraine crisis, analysts told the Global Times.
Tian Shichen, founder of the Global Governance Institution and director of the International Center for the Law of Military Operations, told the outlet that foreign warships have the right to navigate freely in any country's contiguous zones as long as they abide by the domestic laws set by the coastal country in accordance with international law.
The Chinese vessel navigated in the Chinese contiguous zone over which China has sovereign rights and jurisdiction, while the Russian vessel navigated in the area freely because of the right of free navigation in any contiguous zone in accordance with international law, Tian explained.