East China Sea dispute
Despite escalating tensions between China and Japan over maritime rights on the East China Sea, the Japan Coast Guard rescued six vcrew members of a sinking Chinese fishing vessel - File photoReuters

The Japan Coast Guard rescued six crew members of a Chinese fishing boat that was sinking in the East China Sea after colliding with a Greek cargo ship early on Thursday, 11 August. Beijing reciprocated Tokyo's humane gesture and thanked them for the rescue operation, despite ongoing tensions between the two countries over maritime rights on the East China Sea.

The incident took place about 65 km off Uotsuri Island near the Senkaku Islands. Japanese coast guards are still searching for eight other missing members from the fishing vessel.

The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Japan received a distress signal from the Chinese fishing vessel headed for Australia. The Japan Coast Guard then sent a patrol boat and a plane to the site to attend to the rescue call, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported. The report added that the weather conditions were not favourable for carrying out search at the time.

Following the incident, Tokyo informed Beijing, which "expressed appreciation" for the rescue operation, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Senkaku Islands, where the incident took place, is a disputed region in the East China Sea, with both China and Japan claiming it to be its own territory. Recently, Japan had warned China of "deteriorating relations" over the maritime dispute, after the former intensified its patrolling in the disputed waters.

The Japanese foreign ministry issued a nine-page dossier on Wednesday (10 August) with details of alleged intrusions by Chinese fishing vessels. The documents also comprised of photographs of some of the vessels and lists of protests submitted to the Chinese side, the Japan Times reported.

"There are approximately 200 to 300 fishing vessels operating in the contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands, and a large number of Chinese government vessels," the foreign ministry said in the documents.

"Despite Japan repeatedly lodging strong protests with the Chinese side, the Chinese side has continued to take unilateral actions that raise tensions on the ground, and this is absolutely unacceptable," one of the documents read.