China flexed some maritime muscle Friday in its dispute with Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands, holding naval exercises in the East China Sea to demonstrate its ability to enforce offshore territorial claims. . . .Friday’s exercise involved 11 vessels from the East China Sea fleet and the civilian marine surveillance and fishery administration agencies, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said. Eight aircraft also took part, it said. . . .Xinhua said patrol vessels from the fishery administration and the marine surveillance agency have recently been stalked and harassed by foreign vessels while carrying out missions.
These exercises follow a trip this week by Japanese members of parliament and opposition leader Shinzo Abe to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.Despite recent media reports that Japanese and Chinese officials were meeting to discuss territorial disputes, and the urging of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to peacefully resolve such disagreements, both Japan and China continue to prepare for a confrontation, holding military exercises that focus on naval combat and landing troops on rough coastlines.