Eight Chinese ships were in waters around islands at the centre of a bitter dispute with Japan on Tuesday, as Tokyo said it had not ruled out stationing officials there.
A Chinese coast guard ship near the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in a photo taken and released by the Japan Coast Guard on September 5, 2013.
The moves came the day before the first anniversary of Tokyo's nationalisation of part of the chain.The Chinese coast guard flotilla is the biggest seen in waters around the Tokyo-administered Senkakus since eight government ships were tracked there in April, a spokesman for the Japanese coastguard said.
Official media in China, citing the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), said it was the 59th "patrol" of the area since September 2012, when Tokyo took the islands into public ownership.
Beijing claims the archipelago as its own and calls the islands the Diaoyus.