(Newsroom America) -- China is raising the stakes in its dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Japan claims as its own, by making a concerted effort to chase away Tokyo's ships.
The Financial Times reported Wednesday that the moves are creating new tensions between the two largest Asian economies.
"The Chinese State Oceanic Administration – which enforces the nation’s maritime interests – said four of its ships on Tuesday tried to expel Japanese vessels" which it said were operating in the region "illegally," FT reported.
Japan controls the islands. Tokyo recently purchased them from a private Japanese owner. The islands are also claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu, however.
Japan's Coast Guard has been vying with Chinese vessels in recent weeks, with the latter sometimes crossing into waters claimed by Japan.
In recent days, Japan says Chinese vessels approached Japanese ships operating in the waters off the Senkakus with a warning that said, "You are in waters administered by the People’s Republic of China. You are already breaching the law. Move away immediately."
Japan's Coast Guard said it returned the warning, telling the Chinese ships they were crossing into Japan's territorial waters. The Chinese vessels crossed into those waters briefly before leaving.
Chinese analysts denied Beijing's vessels had breached Japanese waters.
"Chinese government vessels did not chase Japanese boats out of the islands’ territorial waters in the past, as these waters were an area controlled by the Japanese coastguard," Li Guoqiang, an expert on border issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told FT. "But the situation changed when we created a legal basis for enforcing our claim by announcing the territorial baseline for the islands in September."
© 2012 Newsroom America.