Chinese media berated a military drill between US and Japan amid escalating tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

According to Asahi Shimbun, about 2,000 US Marines and 40 Japanese troops will take part in the exercises on the islands of Guam and Tinian, including a simulation of an island assault. They will use a US amphibious assault ship, helicopters and hovercrafts. A Defense Ministry official claimed that the exercise does not presuppose an invasion on Senkaku by China.

Media saw the exercise as a provocation by Japan after a Japanese report quoted a top Defense Ministry official saying that the drill will be necessary to plan defense tactics in case of a Chinese advance on the Senkakus. The Communist Party’s Global Times urged China to prepare for possible conflict. A reporter for China Central Television said, “Villains do evil together”.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated following several activist landings to defend each of the countries’ sovereignty over the islands.