Japan-China: Japan scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government Y-12 propeller aircraft approached the airspace of the disputed Senkaku Islands on 28 February. The Chinese aircraft returned toward China after the Japanese fighters became airborne, Japanese defense officials said.
The Japanese coast guard reported that three Chinese patrol boats sailed into territorial waters around the islands about the same time as the Y-12, which is a maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft. A couple of Chinese fisheries patrol vessels were also present in the contiguous zone outside Japan's territorial waters.
China also sailed its first and only aircraft carrier, Liaoning, to its permanent base at the North Sea Fleet headquarters, the port of Qingdao. This fleet's area of operations includes the islands in dispute with Japan.
In the South China Sea, a task group of three Chinese maritime surveillance and patrol ships left Hainan to carry out routine patrols, according to Zee news on 1 March. This is the second task group to undertake regular patrols in the past two weeks.
Comment: China may be expected to sustain aggressive patrol operations in all its adjacent sea areas to back up its claims of island and sea area ownership. Liaoning may be expected to undertake show-the-flag missions in Chinese claimed waters near Japan, but without putting the ship at risk. Activity to date portends a vigorous and expanded patrol schedule this year and a steady increase in regional tension.
North Korea -US: The Korean Central News Agency reported and update on basketball diplomacy.
"A mixed basketball game of the visiting American basketball players of Harlem Globetrotters and Korean players belonging to the Hwaebul basketball team of Korean University of Physical Education took place at Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium on Thursday.
Among the American players was ex-player of NBA Dennis Rodman.
Sports fans and other Pyongyang citizens packed the gymnasium to watch the game with great interest.
Among the audience were foreign diplomatic envoys, representatives of international bodies, military attaches and other foreign guests here with their families.
The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, together with his wife Ri Sol Ju, came to the gymnasium to watch the game.
The players and audience broke into thunderous cheers, greatly excited to see the game together with Kim Jong Un.
Dennis Rodman went up to the auditorium to bow to Kim Jong Un.
Warmly welcoming him, Kim Jong Un let him sit next to him.…"
Comment: The game ended in a tie: 110:110. Later they attended a dinner. Rodman and the Globetrotters are the first Americans to meet and dine with Kim Jong Un and his wife.
France-Mali: Update. The French government announced that French forces will remain in Mali until at least July. No significant drawdown of the 4,000 French soldiers will take place in March, as announced previously.
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