230 Chinese Fishing Boats Fish in Disputed Waters with Japan

A picture released by the Japan Coast Guard on Saturday shows a China Coast Guard sailing near disputed islands in the East China Sea. Photo: AFP

A picture released by the Japan Coast Guard on Saturday shows a China Coast Guard sailing near disputed islands in the East China Sea. Photo: AFP

It is fishing season now. China sends a fishing fleet of 232 boats escorted by coastguard ships to the areas around the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkaku in Japan).

SCMP says in its report “Japan protests after Chinese ships approach East China Sea islands”, “Japan issued a new protest to Beijing on Saturday after Chinese coastguard ships and about 230 fishing vessels sailed close to what Tokyo considers its territorial waters around disputed islets in the East China Sea, Japan’s foreign ministry said.”

Such protest repeats every year since 2012 when China sent a fishing fleet of 1,000 boats to fish in the disputed waters (see my post “Over 1,000 Chinese Fishing Boats to Fish at Disputed Waters” on September 4, 2012).

The number of boats is smaller now, but the boats are larger as China has subsidized fishermen to substitute larger ones for smaller ones as larger ones are able to deal with Japanese coastguard ships.

As there are rich fish resources in the disputed waters, the catch is satisfactory, but the large-scale fishing operation is political as China subsidized the fuel costs for all the fishing boats going there in order to maintain substantial Chinese presence in the disputed waters.

In addition, China has been building large coastguard ships to deal with Japanese, Philippine and Vietnamese coast guards. Some of Chinese coastguards are so large as to have displacement of 10,000 tons.

Not only coast guards but Chinese warships and warplanes frequently patrol the areas around the disputed Diaoyu Islands (see my post “Chinese warships to become common feature around Diaoyus” on December 12, 2012).

The problem for Japan is that since the US returned the administration of the Diaoyus, it remained the sole administrator of the islands until 2012 when disputes over the sovereignty over the islands occurred. China has conducted unlimited fishing in the disputed areas and frequent patrols there with coastguard and naval ships and aircrafts.

China and Japan are now de facto joint administrators of the islands similar to the situation of the Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) before the Scarborough standoff when both Chinese and Philippine fishermen fished in the area around and the lagoon inside the shoal.

Japan cannot prohibit Chinese fishermen from fishing there as that will give rise to a standoff similar to Scarborough standoff. The US will tell Japan to retreat as it does not want to fight a war with China for a few rocks.

Japan can do nothing but protests. However, it shall regard itself lucky as China has only set up an air defense identification zone that includes the disputed islands in its disputes with Japan. It does not conduct regular combat patrol of the areas around the Diaoyus.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2000070/japan-protests-after-chinese-ships-approach-east-china.


5 Comments on “230 Chinese Fishing Boats Fish in Disputed Waters with Japan”

  1. Bodo Aquino says:

    Japan was the aggressor nation in world war II. It caused untold deaths and sufferings in East Asia. How can a an aggressor and a war criminal nation at that, which lost the war, benefit from the spoils of war? How could the U.S. gave away Chinese territory to a such a nation?

    To me, this is sufficient justification to start a war with Japan and the U.S.. I would invade and take back the Diaoyus. Unlike the Argentinians and the Falkland islands, Beijing and China has all the reasons and justification to conduct war to defend it’s territory. I would not be cowed by Washington’s threat to enter into the war to “defend” Japan. Similarly, I would not be intimidated by Obama and Washington’s threat to come to Taiwan’s defence.

    For the question that begs to be asked is – “What business is it of Washington to enter into “defence” treaties of entities belonging territorially to China? Are they U.S.’s colonies?

    If the case was reversed and it is argued, Washington is showing strength of character by resisting foreign nation entering a treaty of defence of American territories such as Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Virgin islands, etc., so too the same will be applied to China.

    Beijing must without question, display strength of character by standing up and defeating neocon Obama and Washington’s threat. America has no say over Chinese territories.

    Did not Admiral Parry in the 1800s said America’s interest in this region was only trade?


  2. Steve says:

    All we need is just one incident where Japanese coastguard sprays Chinese fishermen with water cannon and the demons of Diaoyu island will break loose.


  3. Simon says:

    Even if you disregard Japanese administeration of the Daioyu islands the fishing ground around it right up to the coast are traditional Chinese fishing ground backed up by historical record long before anyone including Japanese. Circumstances involving illegal posession of the islands by Japan and America over the last 100 years are yet to be resolved. The real owner China ask for the islands to be handed back. What China can do right now is continue to fish and use the resources around Daioyu.


  4. Fre Okin says:

    Per PCA recent ruling, Diaoyu/Senkaku only qualify as a rock and thus only entitled to 12 NM only. The islands cannot support economic activity, guano harvesting all gone, nothing to sustain it.

    Also US only give Japan administrative rights over the islands. Back then in the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement , there is no such thing as 200 NM EEZ, only 12 NM when Okinawa was handed over to Japan with Diaoyu/Senkaku.

    UNCLOS with 200NM EEZ come into effect in 1982 only, so Japan Illegally Extend her 12 NM to 200 NM. Japan cannot magically extend a 12 NM Administrative Right into 200 NM EEZ.

    Diaoyu/Senkaku is Not sovereign to Japan, however much she want to deceive the world. It is like Israel declaring Jerusalem her eternal capital but nobody in the world accept it. Japan have to work Inside UN Acceptance of what is sovereign, not her own story telling.

    The Chinese thus have every right to fish outside the 12 NM. Japan have no business bothering them.

    Further since Japan ‘give Taiwan’ fishery quota, it means Japan is telling the world she don’t have Exclusive 200 NM EEZ. With this background, Japan should not bother the Chinese fishermen and should not even lodge a complaint against China.


    • Simon says:

      Its not possible to extend 200nm EEZaround the Daioyo becasue that would extend right upto and beyond including Taiwan itself and overlap China’s 200nm around its coast. In cases like this EEZ are split half way. What Japan is complaining is Chinese fishing and patrol boats entering the 12nm miles around these islands. While soverignty dispute continues the fishing ground are traditionally Chinese. UNCLOS and even the illegal PCA accept traditional fishing grounds entitles a country to fish in disputed territories.

      Liked by 1 person