Tokyo: Beijing is looking to "create grey zone" operations continuously to exert stress on opponents because it avoids army clashes with other countries, according to a report by the Japan Defence Ministry think tank.

China's Communist Party (CCP) has been strengthening the armed forces and non-military organizations via restructuring and reforms under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the National Institute for Defence Studies said in its China Security Report 2023 on Friday, reported The Japan Times.

China's capabilities in grey zone situations have seen improvements, which the report said stemmed from integrating the China Coast Guard and "maritime militia" into the military command.

The report also cited the buildup of the groups' equipment. Its release came as Tokyo and Beijing have been at loggerheads over the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China, reported The Japan Times.

Constant Chinese intrusions on the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea are provoking Japan over Beijing's rising aspirations of making gains over Tokyo's territory.

Though the Senkaku islands are being administered by Japan, China has been flexing its muscles claiming that it is Beijing's territory.

China has been sending official vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the islands in an attempt to assert its claim over what it calls the Diaoyu, reported The Japan Times.

"The coast guard and maritime militia have stepped up activities since the 2010s," said Shinji Yamaguchi, a senior research fellow at the institute and one of the authors of the report.

"They have also weaponized activities," Yamaguchi told journalists.

In 2018, the China Coast Guard was placed under the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, a paramilitary force supervised by the country's Central Military Commission, reported The Japan Times.

The coast guard employs a more hard-line stance in the South China Sea, in which Beijing has conflicting territorial claims with neighbouring countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, than in the East China Sea, according to the report.

China has been also putting more efforts into "influence operations" through social media activities and other means in an attempt to "correct Western 'misperceptions' and actively disseminate Chinese perspectives and narratives at home and abroad," it said.

Spreading fake news and other influence operations against Taiwan is the "most conspicuous example," which the report said has posed "a major threat" to the self-ruled democratic island, reported The Japan Times.

Experts say that Chinese President Xi Jinping's ideology is "what is ours is ours and what is yours is negotiable." The actions by China clearly reflect that it is unilaterally trying to change the status quo and provoking its neighbouring nations to bring about instability in the region.

Amidst the escalating tensions with China, Japan is holding intense discussions on increasing its defence budget and developing nuclear-powered submarines over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.