Filipinos and Vietnamese residents display placards during a rally outside the Chinese consulate in Makati city, east of Manila, on Saturday to call on China to respect the international arbitration ruling favouring the Philippines on the disputed group of islands in the South China Sea. Three of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels were armed with what appeared to be gun batteries, Japan’s foreign ministry said. Today’s fleet size and equipment showed “an escalation of the situation that could heighten tensions in the waters,” the ministry said, without elaborating on what might have caused the increase. Relations between Japan and China have been strained over wartime history, a sensitive topic for the region in times of war-end anniversaries during the summer.China began regular air patrols on July 18 after the international tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in response to a Philippines petition struck down China’s claims over the South China Sea and upheld Manila’s rights in the areas claimed by it.The flight is part of actual combat training to improve the Air Force’s response to security threats, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency. Japan summoned Chinese diplomats on Saturday to protest after six Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached disputed East China Sea islands accompanying a fleet of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats..
Secretary Kerry spoke today by phone with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to preview President Obama’s upcoming visit to Hangzhou, China, and his participation in the G20 Summit,” Mr Kirby said. On Friday, Japan also protested after two Chinese Coast Guard ships entered the Japanese-claimed waters around Senkaku.Also, Japan summoned Chinese diplomats on Saturday to protest after six Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached disputed East China Sea islands accompanying a fleet of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats. Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement it filed the protest after Japan’s Coast Guard spotted the vessels along with a fleet of 230 Chinese fishing boats swarming around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. Until now, only one of the vessels was armed.Chinese Air Force aircraft, including several H-6 long bombers and Su-30 aircraft, have inspected the airspace around the Nansha and Huangyan islands in the South China Sea, a Chinese Air force spokesperson said.“The secretary and foreign minister Wang also discussed appropriate responses to the recent provocative actions by North Korea, including efforts to implement fully obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2270,” Mr Kirby said in a statement. The Chinese fleet has not intruded in Japanese territorial waters so far, it said. Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry spoke to Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to discuss the recent “provocative actions” by North Korea and the upcoming G-20 Summit in China. Japan is demanding the ships leave the area. China’s long-range bombers and fighter jets have “inspected” the airspace over the disputed South China Sea islands in a fresh bid to assert its sovereignty over the area after an international tribunal in July struck down Beijing’s claims. China also claims the islands, calling them the Diaoyu.China’s Coast Guard vessels routinely sail around the islands, usually in pairs or up to four. Japan has joined the US, the Philippines and others in Classic White Face Mask urging China to abide by international law after a UN arbitration panel ruled in favour of the Philippines in its maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea. The two leaders also discussed the September’s China visit by US President Barack Obama, his spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.