Chinese media extolled a government aircraft’s flight over the disputed Senkaku Islands, which China call the Diaoyu, and accused Japan of “provoking” a confrontation when it scrambled fighter jets to the area on Thursday.

State-run Xinhua News Agency ran a color photo of an aerial view of the Senkakus taken from a State Oceanic Administration airplane which several newspaper,s such as Global Times, ran under the headline: “A mainland aircraft flies over the Diaoyu Islands for the first time”.

The Beijing Times reported the government conducted a “three dimensional” patrol of the islands both from sea and the air to “preserve China’s interests” while China Central Television (CCTV) accused Japan of “provoking” the confrontation when it sent eight Self-Defense Forces fighter jets. A military expert criticized Japan’s move saying the Chinese aircraft that flew over the Senkakus was neither a military nor a reconnaissance aircraft, CCTV reports.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said Japanese vessels and aircraft have “illegally” entered China’s waters and airspace around the Diaoyu and urged them to “leave China’s territorial waters immediately”.

It was the first Chinese violation of Japan’s territorial airspace as Beijing has intensified efforts to challenge Tokyo’s control over the territory since it purchased three of the islands which has strained relations between the two.

Japan’s chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura described the incident as “extremely deplorable”.