China envoy says naval chopper fly-by was Japan`s fault

Beijing`s new ambassador to Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a protest over Chinese military helicopters twice making fly-bys close to Japanese naval destroyers, blaming Japan for the row.

Last Updated: Apr 27, 2010, 21:02 PM IST

Tokyo: Beijing`s new ambassador to Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a protest over Chinese military helicopters twice making fly-bys close to Japanese naval destroyers, blaming Japan for the row.
The Chinese envoy, Cheng Yonghua, also warned that the
US-Japanese security alliance under which the United States
operates dozens of bases in Japan, should not target China,
saying that "the Cold War structure is over".

The helicopter fly-bys took place near Japan`s Okinawa
island this month when Japanese naval ships spotted and
followed the largest Chinese flotilla of warships so far to
sail between Japanese islands.

The Chinese ships did not pass through Japan`s
territorial waters but their voyage was seen as provocative by
many in Japan, which has watched with unease its Asian rival`s
build-up of military muscle.

Tokyo lodged a protest with Beijing last week after a
Chinese naval helicopter flew within 90 metres of one of its
naval ships on April 23 in the second such incident this
month, Japan`s defence ministry said.

But China`s ambassador, who took office in late
February, today blamed the tense incident on the Japanese
destroyer and patrol aircraft that he said had followed the
Chinese flotilla "all the way into the Pacific".

"How would the Japanese people feel if there was a
Japanese drill and the Japanese left port and was then
annoyingly chased by Chinese destroyers?" Cheng said at the
Japan National Press Club.

"That breaches the spirit of mutual understanding and
mutual trust."

PTI