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China orders survey of disputed islands with Japan

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BEIJING (PTI): In an escalation of its maritime boundary dispute with Japan, China has announced plans to survey the disputed islands in the East China Sea and asked its military to be combat ready.

China is to survey the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea as part of a programme of mapping its territorial islands and reefs, the official media here reported.

The first stage of the island surveying and mapping was launched in 2009 and monitoring of islands located within 100 km of the coastline has been finished, according to a document issued by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The second stage will cover islands including the Diaoyu Islands, and this programme is part of the country's efforts to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.

As of the end of last year, China has completed the identifying and precise positioning of about 6,400 islands and more than 4,900 island maps of three different scales.

Asked about the survey, Chinese Foreign Ministery Spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing here that the islands called by Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan are inherent territory of China and Chinese ships and planes are patrolling the area to exercise country's jurisdiction.

The patrols resulted in escalation of tensions especially after the election of Sinzho Abe as new Japanese Prime Minister.

The countries have scrambled their jet fighters over the presence of surveillance planes over the islands.

In the midst of these tensions the General Staff Headquarters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has asked commanders and soldiers to strengthen their readiness for possible war with a directive to stage more exercises.

"The General Staff Headquarters of PLA has pledged to stage more military drills that simulate real combat, urging commanders and soldiers to strengthen their readiness for possible war," the PLA Daily reported.

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