The disputed islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, seen from a Chinese marine surveillance plane. Photo: Reuters
BEIJING: China's Ministry of Defence said its ships didn't use weapons-targeting radar on Japanese naval forces last month, calling statements made by Japanese officials on the issue "irresponsible" and contributing to heightened tensions between Asia's two biggest economies.
Chinese ships used radar to closely monitor a Japanese military helicopter on January 19 and to track the Japanese destroyer Yudachi on January 30, and in both cases fire-control radar wasn't used, the ministry said .
"The Japanese side saying that Chinese naval fire control radar was aimed at Japanese naval units does not correspond with the facts," according to the ministry statement. "Top officials in the Japanese government are making irresponsible remarks, talking up the 'China threat,' creating a tense atmosphere and willfully misleading international public opinion."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 6 denounced what he said was China's use of fire-control radar last month twice at Japanese targets in the East China Sea near islands claimed by both countries. The incidents have undermined efforts to ease tensions between the two countries and elicited calls from the US for a diplomatic solution.
The islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are in an area rich in oil, natural gas and fish. Japan's purchase of three of the islands in September prompted violent protests in China that damaged Japanese businesses.
Fire-control radar is used to provide targeting information to missiles and some naval guns. Its use can in some circumstances be a sign of hostile intent, according to a manual of rules of engagement written under the direction of the US Naval War College.