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US backs Japan in row over Chinese ships sailing close to disputed islands in East China Sea

The United States has expressed opposition to any attempt to undermine Japan’s administration of a group islands in the East China Sea after Chinese government ships sailed close by despite repeated protests by Tokyo.

“We oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

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Trudeau reaffirmed the US position that Washington does not take sides on the issue of the sovereignty on the islands, but they fall under the Japan-US security treaty, meaning the United States will defend Japan in the event of any emergency over the territory, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyu.

“The Senkaku Islands have been under Japanese administration since the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. They fall within the scope of Article Five of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security,” she said.

Seven Chinese government vessels and over 200 fishing vessels had been spotted operating in the zone just beyond Japanese waters around the islands by Wednesday afternoon, according to Japanese Coast Guard officials.

Tokyo warns Beijing over Chinese maritime push near Diaoyu Islands

“We are in close communication with the Japanese as allies and are also concerned about the increase of Chinese coastguard vessels in the vicinity of the islands,” Trudeau said.

China, which maintains the islands have been its territory since ancient times, says it is a matter of course that Chinese vessels operate in waters near their country’s jurisdiction.

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