On Sunday, Beijing warned Tokyo against meddling in the South China Sea conflict, where the Hague-based Court of Arbitration recently ruled against China’s nine-dash line territorial claims.
"Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue, and considering its shameful history, it has no rights whatsoever to accuse China on the matter," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, according to Xinhua news agency.
This did not, however, prevent a Japanese submarine from visiting a former US naval base in Subic Bay, in the Philippines. The vessel, one of the Japanese navy’s newest and largest, was escorted by two Japanese destroyers.
The development comes one day before the annual Balikatan military exercise, to be conducted by the Philippines, Japan, the United States, and Australia over the next 12 days.
While Beijing has not yet commented on submarine’s arrival in the South China Sea, Tokyo insists that its presence is not aimed at any country.
"We don’t have any message to any country," said Captain Hiraoki Yoshino of Japan’s Maritime Defense Force, according to the China Daily.
The United States and its Pacific allies object to China’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, accusing Beijing of attempting to establish an air defense zone. Beijing maintains that it has every right to build within its own territory and that its islands will be used primarily for civilian purposes.
Nevertheless, Washington has pushed regional allies to play a more active role in countering China’s growth. Last year’s Balikatan was similarly seen as a way to provoke Beijing.