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US pledges to help Japan with China's incursions into Senkaku islands

ANI | Updated: Aug 01, 2020 16:37 IST

Washington [US], August 1 (ANI): Days after US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called "for a new alliance of democracies" to counter Beijing's aggressive policies, the White House in its latest has lent a helping hand to Japan to handle Beijing's repeated incursions into the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, Nikkei Asian Review reported.
"The United States is 100 per cent absolutely steadfast in its commitment to help the government of Japan with the situation," Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the highest-ranking US military officer in Japan, was quoted as saying in a virtual press briefing. "That's 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
He further said the Chinese ships usually "would go in and out a couple of times a month and now we are seeing them basically park and truly challenge Japan's administration."
"The duration of the incursions is beyond anything that we've seen in a long, long time," he said while adding that the US was offering Japan surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to assess the situation.
While the US giving explicit support is rare, it comes ahead of the end of a Chinese seasonal fishing ban scheduled for mid-August, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Four years ago, 230 Chinese ships had gathered around the Senkakus -- both fishing ships and Chinese Coast Guard vessels -- with some entering Japanese territorial waters.
Citing Japanese defence white paper, Nikkei Asian Review had earlier reported that there have been "relentless" intrusions in the areas around the Senkaku islands as called by Japan or Diaoyu in China.
Besides, China has been asserting its claims in the recent days in the South China Sea by establishing administrative districts around disputed islands while the neighbouring countries have been busy with dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Last month, the US State Department rejected China's claims to the "nine-dash line" in the South China Sea. The "nine-dash line" area overlaps the United Nations-mandated exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The US Navy has increased its trilateral naval drills with Japan and Australia, as well as bilateral exercises with India. There are reports that the four countries -- all part of the informal Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad -- could formulate a formal joint military coalition soon, Nikkei Asian Review reported. (ANI)