TAIPEI: Japanese media on Monday (Aug. 30) reported that a Chinese warship is being deployed 24-hours a day in the waters between Yonaguni Island and northeast Taiwan.
On Monday, the Sankei Shimbun cited Japanese government officials and Taiwanese military leaders as saying that a Chinese warship is being kept on 24-hour standby between Okinawa Prefecture's Yonaguni Island and Taiwan's Yilan County. The Japanese government perceives this deployment as an "action to raise military tensions" and is analyzing China's intentions, according to the newspaper.
The report added that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had already been regularly sending two warships near the 27th parallel, north of the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands) in Okinawa Prefecture, before adding the patrol near Yonaguni Island. Sources told the newspaper that the ship is located north-northwest of Yonaguni Island and first appeared there late last year.
The warships sent to the area are believed to be part of China's East Sea Fleet, which is based in Zhejiang Province's Ningbo. Yonaguni Island is only 110 kilometers from Taiwan's northeast coast and 170 km from the Diaoyutai Islands.
Japan's Ministry of Defense has positioned a coastal observation unit of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces on Yonaguni to monitor movements in the waters between the island and Taiwan. The report cited Japanese officials as asserting that China considers the waterway a strategic chokepoint and is attempting to limit the movements of Taiwanese naval vessels.
Likewise, a Taiwanese military official told the news agency that the Chinese ship has been sent to constrain the movements of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The report stated that although the PLAN Type 054A frigate spotted off the coast of Yonaguni on May 3 is not the same ship currently prowling the area, the fact that the Japanese defense ministry publicized the encounter is a sign Japan is seeking to draw attention to Chinese naval maneuvers in the area.