China summons Japanese Ambassador for 3rd time in 4 days

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa and protested against Japan's "illegal seizure" of a Chinese fishing boat in waters off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which is claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan.

Yang informed Niwa about Chinese government's determination to defend the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and the interests of Chinese people was unswerving, a Foreign Ministry statement here said.

Yang said China demanded Japan immediately and unconditionally release the boat and all the crew, including the captain.

This is that third time Niwa has been summoned by the Chinese government in four days. Officials here said China may send a law enforcement ship to the area.

Reports from Japan said Tokyo is going ahead with the prosecution of the Captain and the crew under its domestic law ignoring protests from Beijing.

According to reports in the Japanese media, the Chinese fishing vessel with Captain and 14 crew members "deliberately rammed" into one of the Japanese coast guard vessels off Diaoyu Islands which were called by Japanese as Senkaku islands.

The boat later hit a second Japanese cost guard vessel when it was asked to halt damaging its hull.

"Initially, high-ranking (Japanese) coast guard officers assumed the first crash might have been caused by high waves. But after the second collision, they realised the Chinese boat captain had deliberately rammed their vessels," the media reports said.

Chinese fishing boats operating in waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands increased markedly in August, but they all obeyed warnings from coast guard vessels to leave those waters when challenged, a report in the Japanese Daily The Asahi Shimbun said.

"At that point, the alternative of having the boat leave Japanese waters and not filing criminal charges evaporated," it quoted coast guard official as saying.

Chinese analysts apprehended that the incident coming close on the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statement at ASEAN meet seeking US role in the resolution of the of South China disputes could lead to diplomatic intervention of Washington.

Several countries including Japan, Vietnam China, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines claim territorial rights over a host of islands in South China Sea.

Zhou Yongsheng, professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said it was the first time that Japan said it would handle issues related to the Diaoyu Islands by applying its domestic law.

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