China set to survey disputed isles

File photo shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea.

China is set to carry out a detailed survey of the disputed isles claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing in a bid “to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.”

According to a statement issued by China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation on Tuesday, the geographical survey is part of a comprehensive program to map the country’s “territorial islands and reefs.”

No other details are given regarding the program.

The announcement comes a day after Japanese media said Tokyo would deploy two more patrol ships near the disputed islands in the East China Sea for defensive purposes.

According to Japanese public broadcaster, the NHK, the vessels, including a 3,100-ton Chikuzen and a 335-ton Kurose, are set to be positioned at the regional coast guard in August and October.

Japan and China have long been in a dispute over the sovereignty of the islands, which would give the owner exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.

The islands, which are controlled by Japan and form part of Okinawa prefecture, are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

China presented the United Nations with a detailed explanation of its sovereignty over the disputed islands based on certain geological features in December 2012.

Tensions heightened between the two countries after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago. Hundreds of Chinese held several anti-Japan demonstrations following the Japanese move.

MAM/PKH