Air zone ‘ ben­e­fi­cial to safety’

US urged not to send out sig­nals that could fuel Ja­pan’s wrong­do­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By PU ZHENDONG in Bei­jing and CAI HONG in Tokyo

China’s air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone in the East China Sea pro­motes “safety in­stead of dan­ger, co­op­er­a­tion in­stead of con­fronta­tion”, offi cials said in re­sponse to op­po­si­tion from Ja­pan and the United States.

Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense spokesman Geng Yan­sheng said on Tues­day that Ja­pan needs to re­flect on its own ac­tions and cor­rect its mis­takes, while other par­ties should speak and act cau­tiously in or­der not to send sig­nals that could fuel Tokyo’s wrong­do­ing. He made the re­marks af­ter Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said on Tues­day that Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton confi rmed their co­op­er­a­tion on how to han­dle the air zone dur­ing talks with vis­it­ing US Vice- Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

Bi­den called China’s air zone “an at­tempt to uni­lat­er­ally change the sta­tus quo” and said that he will raise US con­cerns when meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping later this week in Bei­jing.

He said the dec­la­ra­tion of the zone has raised re­gional ten­sions and in­creased the risk of ac­ci­dents and mis­cal­cu­la­tion.

‘‘ China has pro­posed sin­cere di­a­logue to dis­cuss avi­a­tion se­cu­rity in the over­lap­ping air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zones. We hope Tokyo will make prac­ti­cal ef­forts to stop fric­tion and con­trib­ute to re­gional sta­bil­ity.”



Geng said Tokyo is not qual­i­fied to make re­marks about China’s “rea­son­able and law­ful” es­tab­lish­ment of the zone, since it has been stir­ring trou­ble in ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes.

Geng said the Chi­nese mil­i­tary is de­ter­mined and ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing ef­fec­tive su­per­vi­sion of the zone.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said that China is not the one that has ag­gra­vated ten­sions and that China ob­jects that cer­tain coun­tries are seiz­ing and ex­ag­ger­at­ing the mat­ter for their own in­ter­est.

“China has pro­posed sin­cere di­a­logue to dis­cuss avi­a­tion se­cu­rity in the over­lap­ping air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zones. We hope Tokyo will make prac­ti­cal ef­forts to stop fric­tion and con­trib­ute to re­gional sta­bil­ity,” Hong said.

Bi­den ar­rived in Tokyo late on Mon­day. His week­long trip in East Asia will also take him to China and South Korea.

Ex­perts said that the is­sue may over­shadow the US in­ten­tion of fo­cus­ing on eco­nomic af­fairs.

Jin Can­rong, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional stud­ies at Ren­min Univer­sity of China, said the ab­sence of a joint state­ment, which was pur­sued by Tokyo, showed that Wash­ing­ton is now lead­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and is un­will­ing to be hi­jacked by the Ja­panese agenda.

Wash­ing­ton’s pol­icy re­gard­ing this is­sue shows its diplo­matic pragmatism, Jin said.

“Po­lit­i­cally, the White House ob­jects to the zone. Mil­i­tar­ily, the Pen­tagon not only ob­jects to it, but is also try­ing to seek a break­through. But on the civil­ian level, the US wants to co­op­er­ate with China in or­der to avoid eco­nomic dam­age,” he said.

Niu Xinchun, a se­nior ex­pert at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said that the US and Ja­pan have over­lap­ping in­ter­ests in terms of their dis­con­tent with China’s air zone.

“Wash­ing­ton is afraid that its free nav­i­ga­tion in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion might be af­fected by the zone. Af­ter all, US naval and air forces have en­joyed free pas­sage for the past three decades,” Niu said.

“How­ever, Wash­ing­ton dis­agrees with Tokyo in play­ing up re­gional ten­sions by ex­ag­ger­at­ing the threat of the zone, which in fact has been an in­ter­na­tional prac­tice,” he added.

Hong also called for world un­der­stand­ing and co­op­er­a­tion re­gard­ing China’s des­ig­na­tion, say­ing the zone, in line with in­ter­na­tional law and not tar­get­ing any spe­cific coun­try, will not af­fect the free­dom of flight in the airspace.

So far, more than 55 air­lines from 19 coun­tries and three re­gions have re­ported their flight plans to the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the spokesman.

Bi­den called on Bei­jing and Tokyo to es­tab­lish cri­sis­man­age­ment and con­fi­dence­build­ing mea­sures to lower ten­sions.

“I will reaf­firm the strength of our al­liance com­mit­ments and em­pha­size the im­por­tance of avoid­ing ac­tions that could un­der­mine peace, se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity in the re­gion,” Bi­den told the Ja­panese news­pa­per Asahi Shim­bun ahead of the tour.

One day ear­lier, the US Navy dis­patched its first ad­vanced P-8 Po­sei­don pa­trol air­craft to Ok­i­nawa, Ja­pan, the start of a de­ploy­ment that will up­grade Wash­ing­ton’s abil­ity to hunt sub­marines and other ves­sels, Reuters said.

Since Bei­jing an­nounced the zone in late Novem­ber, Tokyo, Seoul and Wash­ing­ton have all sent mil­i­tary or para­mil­i­tary planes through it in shows of de­fi­ance. Chen Jia and Mo Jingxi con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at puzhen­dong@chi­ and cai­hong@chi­

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