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China scrambles fighters to tail Japanese planes as island tensions rise

China says it dispatched two fighter jets to tail Japanese warplanes in the East China Sea as tensions over disputed islands simmer.

The Defense Ministry said Friday it sent two J-10 fighters to the area near the islands on Thursday after a Chinese surveillance plane reported being closely followed by two F-15s belonging to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. A Japanese surveillance plane was also in the area during the incident, the ministry said.

It said the Chinese planes were there to "observe and investigate," but no contact between the sides was reported.

Chinese ships and planes have frequently patrolled the area since a flare-up in tensions in September over ownership of the uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.