Bei­jing calls provo­ca­tions by Tokyo ‘dan­ger­ous’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@ chi­

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.

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