East China Sea Disputed Islands

November 30, 2013 by  

East China Sea Disputed Islands, China has sent warplanes into disputed airspace over the East China Sea after Japanese and South Korean military aircraft flew through the area, the Chinese state news agency reported.

China’s air force spokesman Shen Jinke says several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft were sent on normal air patrols in the zone on Thursday. He was quoted by the state news agency Xinhua.

Shen described the flights as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices”. He said China’s air force would remain on high alert and will take measures to protect the country’s airspace.

Japanese and South Korean aircraft flew through the airspace without informing China, officials said on Thursday, challenging a new Chinese air defence zone that has increased regional tensions and sparked concerns of an unintended clash.

China rejected South Korea’s demand for the repeal of the zone but appeared to soften its demand that commercial aircraft tell its military authorities of any plans to pass through the area. Japan’s two biggest airlines have already begun defying that order.

“This has already increased the risk [that the situation] will escalate from confrontation to conflict,” said Shi Yinhong, an expert on international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

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