United States intelligence agencies recently detected China’s military shifting road-mobile ballistic missiles closer to its southern coast near the disputed Senkaku Islands amid growing tensions between Beijing and Japan over the islands dispute.
U.S. defense officials said the movements are being watched closely as China’s military is also holding large-scale military exercises that some fear could be a trigger for a conflict with Japan that could involve U.S. forces.
The officials did not provide details of the missile movements that were tracked by U.S. aircraft, ship-based, and satellite surveillance systems in the region.
Disclosure of the missile movements comes as White House national security adviser Tom Donilon on Monday met in Seoul with China’s state councilor Liu Yandong. The two were in South Korea to attend the inauguration of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Tensions remain high between Japan and China over Tokyo’s nationalization last year of several uninhabited islands between Okinawa and Taiwan called the Senkakus. China claims the islands as its territory. At issue are large undersea oil and gas deposits sought by both energy-poor countries.