China’s military is building a large-scale base on islands off the coast of Zhejiang province, stepping closer to the Diaoyu Islands, several Chinese sources said yesterday.

Construction is underway in the Nanji Islands, about 90km from southeast of Wenzhou, and about 300km northwest of the Japanese-administered, uninhabited Diaoyus in the East China Sea. Japan calls the Diaoyus the Senkakus.

The new base is expected to enhance China’s readiness to respond to potential military crises in the region, as well as strengthen surveillance over the air defense identification zone that it declared over part of the East China Sea in November last year, the sources said.

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