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ASAHI SHIMBUN, JAPAN TIMES (Japan), CHINA DAILY, XINHUA (China), ASSOCIATED PRESS

Worldcrunch

The Japanese government signed a 2.05 billion yen (26 million) contract Tuesday with the owner of three of the five Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, effectively nationalizing the territory and immediately drawing a strong protest from Beijing, which sent surveillance ships to the area, reports the Japan Times.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was quick to blast the nationalization of the territory known in Beijing as the Diaoyu islands as “totally illegal and invalid” and a “gross violation of China’s sovereignty over its own territory.”

He warned Japan’s actions would have “serious consequences” and vowed China would take “necessary measures to protect its territorial sovereignty,” writes the China Daily. Yang Jiechi strongly urged Japan to immediately revoke its wrong decision of ‘purchasing’ the islands and stop all actions detrimental to China’s territorial integrity.

Two Chinese patrol boats reached waters off the disputed Senkaku islands on Tuesday, a significant escalation in the standoff just a day after Beijing threatened to retaliate over a move by Japan’s government to nationalize three of the islands, writes the Asahi Shimbun.

The Xinhua state-run news agency wrote that the Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islands have been China’s "sacred territory since ancient times," supported by historical facts and jurisprudential evidence. "Japan’s decision to “nationalize” the islands is ridiculous and absurd ... an open provocation" against China. Xinhua urged China to "fight back."

The Chinese vessels directed toward the islands were identified as Haijian 46 and Haijian 49 from the China marine Surveillance, a paramilitary agency whose ships are often lightly armed, according to the Associated Press.

Some observers believe additional measures could include penalties for Japanese companies, such as customs clearance or direct sanctions, says the Asahi Shimbun. “We must review private sector exchanges if Japan doesn’t really want to preserve friendly relations,” said a senior Communist Party official.

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