Beijing calls provocations by Tokyo ‘dangerous’
Japanese fighter pilots have engaged in provocative behavior and conducted irresponsible and dangerous maneuvers — once deliberately flying perilously close to a Chinese aircraft, Beijing said on Thursday as the details of intrusions on a joint China-Russia military drill last weekend continued to unfold.
“Japanese military aircraft have conducted, on at least 10 occasions, deliberate close encounters against regular Chinese flights” since China established its Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea in November, Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman, told reporters in Beijing.
The incident on Saturday morning, when two Japanese reconnaissance aircraft entered the East China Sea ADIZ during a China-Russia naval drill, resulted in an exchange of heated remarks.
Geng pointed to a close encounter that took place on Nov 23 as a prime example of provocation.
“A Yun-8 cargo plane of the Chinese air force was trailed by two F-15 fighter jets of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force for 34 minutes. The closest distance between the Japanese and Chinese planes was around 10 meters,” Geng said.
China “took effective countermeasures and has collected convincing evidence” regarding the dangerous actions of the Japanese pilots, Geng said.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japan studies at China Foreign Affairs University, called Japan’s intrusion into the recent military drill “a confrontational gesture”.
“What is more, Tokyo has abused the concept of freedom of navigation on the high seas,” Zhou said.
Tokyo earlier accused Beijing of provocation over a Saturday incident. Japan’s Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday that the encounter “could lead to an accident”.
A spokesman for the Japanese ministry claimed at a news conference in Tokyo that a Chinese fighter jet flew within about 50 meters of a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft, and another flew as close as 30 meters from another Japanese warplane, AFP reported.
Geng said the Chinese pilots in the Saturday encounter “conducted professional operations that conformed to policies and regulations”.
China’s scrambling of aircraft for identification and verification was in accordance with internationally accepted practices, Geng said.
Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the PLA navy, said it has been a strategy of Tokyo to highlight what it claims is Beijing flexing its muscles, while shying away from the fact that its military aircraft intruded into China’s ADIZ.
Geng said Japan frequently dispatched airplanes and vessels to approach waters close to China, characterizing the moves as dangerous actions that undermine maritime and airspace security.