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HANGZHOU - China will further intensify regular patrols of its sea territory to protect the country's maritime interests and rights, a senior maritime patrol official said Monday.
"The patrols are part of our long-term, important responsibility," said Wu Ping, deputy head of China Marine Surveillance (CMS), a government agency in charge of maritime law enforcement.
The comments came after the country's two patrol ships recently made successful trips to the Diaoyu Islands and their nearby waters.
The Diaoyu Islands lie about 356 kilometers from the city of Wenzhou in coastal Zhejiang province in East China.
China started to patrol its maritime territory in 2006. One patrol was made to the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets on December 8, 2008, according to available government data.
Wu did not specify how the patrols would be intensified.
Maritime officials described the latest patrol of the Diaoyu Islands as "very important" as it reinforced Beijing's consistent claim that "the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets have been part of the inherent Chinese territory since ancient times," said Zhang Huirong, another CMS official.
The fleet sent to the Diaoyu Islands included the 3,000-ton-class Haijian 50, the country's largest patrol ship equipped with the most advanced marine technology and helicopter-carrying capacity, officials said previously.
China has 32,000 km of coastline. The total area of its territorial seawater, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, which is recognized under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is 3 million square km.
China's 2010 Ocean Development Report released last May said the country's maritime rights and interests face a complicated situation and safety threats, including terrorism, disputes over maritime resources and sovereignty, and sea delimitation.