Three Chinese navy vessels on Sunday ordered Japanese ships sailing in waters near the disputed Diaoyu Islands (called the Senkaku Islands by the Japanese) to leave the area, the Chinese State Oceans Administration said.

The Chinese ships pinpointed the location of the Japanese boats and took note of infractions they were committing, the agency said, as cited by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The dispute over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has worsened relations between Beijing and Tokyo, which are at their lowest point in years.

Last September, the Japanese government bought three of the tiny islands from their owner, a move that provoked the wrath of Beijing and sparked violent protests in several Chinese cities, where Japanese interests were attacked.

Located 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Taiwan and 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Japan's Okinawa archipelago, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, the waters around which could contain substantial marine and energy resources, have been the focus of a decades-long dispute among China, Japan and Taiwan. EFE