China sends warplanes into new air defence zone amid tensions
Beijing: China has dispatched fighter jets to a newly declared air defence zone over the East China Sea as a "defensive measure", after the US, Japan and South Korea all sent their military planes through the airspace in defiance of Beijing's unilateral move.
Several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft from the People's Liberation Army Air Force conducted normal air patrols in East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, a spokesman for the air force has said.
Colonel Shen Jinke described the move as "a defensive measure and in line with international common practices."
China's air force will remain on high alert and will take measures to deal with diverse air threats to firmly protect the security of the country's airspace, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
On the same day, the PLA Air Force conducted its first air patrol in the area.
China declared new air defence zone over the disputed islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkakus by Japan. Till last year the chain of uninhabited were administered by Japan.
China started challenging the Japanese hold with naval patrols and the ADIZ was seen as an effort to enforce its air control over the islands.
On Tuesday, US defied the zone by deploying B-52 bombers which flew over the area for more than two hours.
Chinese military said it monitored the planes.
Japan and South Korea said they also flew military aircraft into the area in defiance of Beijing this week.
The flights violated the rule stipulated by China that planes transiting the zone must file flight plans. The violations made Chinese zone look ineffective.
Under pressure, the Chinese defence ministry said it will consider to revoke the zone only if Japan which has a similar defence zone over the area withdraws it.
"Should the decision be retracted, we ask the Japanese side to revoke its Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) first, we will then consider their demand 44 years later," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters yesterday reacting ro Japanese Prime minister Shenzo Abe's call for China to withdraw the zone.