China sends ships, Taiwan recalls envoy
Japan yesterday brushed off stern warnings by China and bought a group of islands that both sides claim in a growing dispute that threatens to deepen strains between Asia's two biggest economies.
China rained warnings on Japan in the wake of the island purchase announcement and official media said Beijing had sent two patrol ships to reassert its claim.
And Taiwan yesterday said it had recalled its envoy to Japan in protest at the Japanese government's purchase of disputed islands also claimed by Taipei and Beijing.
"We sternly condemn Japan's nationalising the Diaoyu islands, which is an illegal action that violates the territorial sovereignty" of Taiwan, said foreign minister Timothy Yang in a statement.
The Chinese military's top newspaper accused Japan of "playing with fire", and the Ministry of Defence warned that more, unspecified steps could follow.
"The Chinese military expresses its staunch opposition and strong protest over this," Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in remarks posted on the ministry's website (www.mod.gov.cn).
"The Chinese government and military are unwavering in their determination and will to defend national territorial sovereignty. We are closely following developments, and reserve the power to adopt corresponding measures."
Tokyo insisted it had only peaceful intentions in making the 2.05 billion yen (16.3 million pounds) purchase of three uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, until now leased by the government from a Japanese family that has owned them since early 1970s.