The public took to the streets on Tuesday to defend China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands as wailing sirens marked the 81st anniversary of Japan's invasion amid a new provocation.
On a solemn and emotion-filled day for every Chinese citizen, two Japanese nationalists landed on the islands.
The Foreign Ministry immediately condemned the act as provocative and demanded that Tokyo explain "its endorsement of right-wing activists''.
Relations between China and Japan have been severely strained over the islands. On Sept 11, Japan said it had finalized what it described as its "purchase" of part of the islands from a "private owner''.
Beijing lodged strong protests against Japan's "purchase'' and has beefed up patrols around the islands that have belonged to China for centuries. Coordinates of the islands, clearly identifying their position, have been issued and submitted to the UN.
"These measures have effectively offset the legal consequences of Japan's illegal purchase of the Diaoyu Islands," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Lu Yaodong, director of the department of Japanese diplomacy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Tokyo turning a blind eye to the nationalists landing on the islands has further enraged Chinese public opinion.
"Japan has not shown any sincerity in easing tension and made no bid to resolve the diplomatic deadlock," Lu said, referring especially to Tokyo's decision not to detain the two right-wing activists.
Chinese fishery administration vessel Yuzheng 35001 arrived on Tuesday in waters near the islands, and 10 more patrol ships arrived later, China Central Television reported.
Another two fishery administration vessels also set sail on Tuesday for the islands, China News Service said.
The waters off the islands have been a traditional fishing ground for generations of Chinese fishermen. Records show that around 1,000 Chinese trawlers fish in the waters annually.
Given Beijing's measures to assert sovereignty and safeguard fishing operations, the number of fishing boats heading for the waters will increase, compared to last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry's Regional Fishery Administration Bureau of the East China Sea.
China on Tuesday also issued a thematic map on the Diaoyu Islands, a move viewed as another concrete measure taken to enhance China's administration of the islands.
"According to international law, China may take further measures to define its exclusive economic zone around the islands to safeguard and enhance fishing patrols," said Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Japan illegally seized the islands at the end of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). But key declarations following World War II returned the islands to China.
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