The online news portal of TV5
BEIJING - China has sent two patrol ships to a group of islands at the centre of a territorial row with Japan, state news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday, after Tokyo said it would nationalise them.
Xinhua said the two marine surveillance ships had reached the waters around the Diaoyu islands - known in Japan as the Senkaku islands - to "assert the country's sovereignty".
The latest move came hours after Beijing said late Monday it had summoned the Japanese ambassador to protest Tokyo's announcement that it will buy three of the islands, which will be formally owned by Japan's Coast Guard.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the islands were "an inherent part of China's territory" and vowed his country would "never ever yield an inch" on its sovereignty.
The islands lie around 200 kilometers from Taiwan, and 2,000 kilometres from Tokyo, in a strategically important shipping area. Valuable mineral resources are thought to be nearby.
Often testy Japan-China ties took a turn for the worse in August when pro-Beijing activists landed on one of the islands.
They were arrested by Japanese authorities and deported. Days later about a dozen Japanese nationalists raised their country's flag on the same island, Uotsurijima, prompting protests in cities across China.
Japan's government currently leases four islands and owns a fifth. It does not allow people to visit and has a policy of not building anything there.