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Japan spots three Chinese government ships near disputed islets

TOKYO, May 3 (KUNA) -- Three Chinese government surveillance ships were spotted near Japanese territorial waters off the disputed islands in the East China Sea on Friday, the Japan Coast Guard said. The three maritime surveillance vessels were sailing just outside Japan's waters around the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan, according to the coast guard. It continued warning the Chinese ships not to enter Japanese territorial waters. The small chain of uninhabited rocky islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, lie in rich fishing grounds and waters thought to contain large deposits of oil and natural gas. Relations between the world's second and third-largest economies have sharply deteriorated since Tokyo's nationalization of three of the five major islands in September through purchase from a private Japanese owner. (end) mk.asa KUNA 031108 May 13NNNN