Beijing: Tension between China and Japan over the disputed islands in the East China Sea escalated as Beijing on Monday warned of “firm response" if Tokyo resorted to any provocative action against Chinese ships patrolling there.

“We urge Japan not to look down on Chinese government determination and resolve in defending China’s territorial sovereignty," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing. Hua was responding to questions on Japanese defence ministry’s reported remarks to use force against Chinese patrolling ships.

“If Japan takes further provocative action on the islands issue China will make firm response and Japanese side should be responsible for all the consequences arising there from," Hua said.

Official media here quoted Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera as telling the media on Sunday that “We can never overlook repeated incursions into territorial waters."

China and Japan are at loggerheads over the islands called Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyus by China, located in the East China Sea. The area, which till 2012 was controlled by Japan is believed to be rich with minerals and oil.

China accuses Japan of violating an earlier understanding not to nationalize the islands overlooking Beijing’s claims. China claims that islands as its inherent territory. Tensions escalated between the two countries after Shinzo Abe took over as Prime Minister last year and made efforts to modernize the self defence force, changing its pacifist nature adopted since the Japanese defeat in Second World War.

“How Japan stole the Diaoyu islands from China is very clear," Hua said adding that Japan’s erroneous position and action on the islands issue is an attempt to deny the outcome of the Second World War and challenge the post war world order. “Japan’s attempts no way change the fact that Diaoyu islands belongs to China," she said.

“The more some Japanese people deny and evade history more difficult it will be for them to get rid of the judgement of the history and the heavier historical burden on their shoulders," she said.

Hua also attacked Japan for criticising its new fishing law in Hainan province, imposing restrictions on fishing by nationals other than Chinese in the South China Sea. “Relevant people before making remarks should do basic research. At least they should read Chinese laws and regulations," Hua said. “We hope people will see through the nature of Japan’s purposes and stay on high alert," she said. China claims all most all of South China Sea as its own which is strongly contested by Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. PTI

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