China, Japan engage in new invective over disputed isles
China's defence ministry rejected a Japanese allegation that a naval vessel had aimed a weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese military ship in the East China Sea, its first comment on the week-old incident. It said Japan's intrusive tracking of Chinese vessels was the "root cause" of the renewed tension.
A Japanese official on Friday dismissed the Chinese explanation for the January 30 incident. He said Beijing's actions could precipitate a dangerous situation in waters around the islets, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, believed to be rich in oil and gas.
His comments came a day after Japan said two Russian fighter jets briefly entered its air space near other, long-disputed islands, prompting Japan to scramble combat fighters. Russia denied the charge.
China's defence ministry, in a faxed statement issued late on Thursday, said Japan's remarks "do not match the facts". The Chinese ship's radar, it said, had maintained regular alerting operations and "did not use fire control radar".
The ministry said the Chinese ship was tracked by a Japanese destroyer during routine training exercises. Fire control radar pinpoints the location of a target for missiles or shells and its use can be considered a step short of actual firing.
Japan, it said, had recently "made irresponsible remarks that hyped up the so-called 'China threat', recklessly
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