Chinese Coast Guard vessels sailed near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Monday, two days after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Japan.
According to AFP, Japanese Coast Guard said three ships sailed near the disputed island chain known as Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China.
The February 6 sail-by came days after James Mattis’ visit to Japan during which he confirmed the long-standing U.S. position on the Senkaku Islands and praised Japan’s contributions to regional and global security.
“As the Japanese people know so well, jointly we face many security challenges in this region; from the threat of nuclear missile provocations by North Korea to increasingly confrontational behavior by China in the East and the South China Sea, [and] we recognize the changing security situation,” Mattis said.
Saying that China’s actions shredded the trust of nations in the region Mattis provoked a response by the Chinese foreign ministry which said the U.S. should stop making remarks that bring instability in the region.
Prior to arriving in Japan, the defense secretary visited South Korea on his first trip as secretary of defense. During the visit, Mattis and ROK minister of national defense Han Min-Koo further resolved to move forward with critical defensive measures, such as deploying a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to the ROK and taking steps to improve trilateral cooperation with Japan.