12:10 GMT30 November 2020
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    China has built a pier for warships at a site being developed as a military base close to the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea, amid escalating tensions with Japan.

    An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016
    © REUTERS / Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters/File Photo
    Both countries claim rights to the islands and surrounding waters, currently controlled by Japan. The new 70- to 80-meter-long pier has been constructed on one of the islands in the Nanji chain off the port city of Wenzhou, about 100 km closer to the Senkakus than Okinawa and its numerous US military bases.

    Several warships have already been seen using the facility, which can also accommodate landing craft, according to the sources. It is reported that the islets have an advanced radar system in place and a heliport for use by aircraft carrier-based helicopters.

    The move was apparently aimed at boosting China's preparedness for possible future confrontations with Japan and the US. Both Tokyo and Washington have shown concern over Beijing's growing maritime assertiveness.

    China has intensified monitoring of the air defense identification zone it declared over the sea in 2013, which hasn't been recognized by Japan or the US.

    A plan is in the works to build a major China Coast Guard base in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, to enhance support for vessels monitoring the Senkakus.

    The confrontation between the two neighbors over the East China Sea commenced following the end of the World War II, when Tokyo occupied large swaths of Chinese lands.

    The reigniting of tensions follows a ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. The recent order stated that Beijing has no historical rights for areas it claims. Beijing has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court.


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