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China accuses Japan of interfering in naval drills

October 31, 2013

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday accused Japan of interfering in its recent naval exercises and said it may take unspecified further action if the meddling doesn’t stop.

The tough talk comes amid a bitter dispute over competing claims to an uninhabited island group in the East China Sea.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters that a Japanese navy ship entered the exercise zone on Oct. 25 and stayed for three days, despite a Chinese notice to ships that it’s navy would be conducting drills in the area.

Yang said Japanese ships and aircraft also lingered close by for days conducting “high intensity” tracking and surveillance.

“Not only do those actions constitute interference in our normal training activities, they also threaten the safety of our ships and planes and could lead to accidents or miscalculations,” Yang said.

Japan must cease such “provocations” or “bear responsibility for the consequences,” he said. “China reserves the right to take further measures.”

The 13-month island feud has raised tensions between the rivals — who are also important economic partners — to new heights. Coast guard vessels regularly confront each other in waters around the islands and government-to-government exchanges have been frozen.

The dispute sharpened in September 2012 when the Japanese government nationalized them against China’s objections.