China scrambles jets after US, Japan planes enter new air zone

China on Friday scrambled several fighter jets to monitor military planes of the US, Japan and South Korea in its newly declared air defence zone over the East China Sea amid a call by President Xi Jinping to the PLA to enhance war capabilities.

Beijing: China on Friday scrambled several fighter jets to monitor military planes of the US, Japan and South Korea in its newly declared air defence zone over the East China Sea amid a call by President Xi Jinping to the PLA to enhance war capabilities.

The Chinese fighter jets identified and monitored the two US and 10 Japanese aircraft during their flights through the zone early Friday, Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by the state-run China News. He made no mention of any further action.

"Several combat aircraft were scrambled to verify the identities" of US and Japanese aircraft entering the zone, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing an air force official.

Colonel Shen said yesterday said several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft from the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force conducted normal air patrols in the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) that Beijing unilaterally declared last week.

Colonel Shen 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, he said yesterday when the PLA Air Force conducted its first air patrol in the area.

President Xi, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, ordered the PLA to reinforce the party`s leadership over the troops, enhance its war capabilities and strive to build a strong strategic reserve force.

Military training is critical to beef up the PLA`s war capacities and that trainings must focus on what is needed to fight a war and what it lacks most, Xi said while inspecting the Jinan Military Area Command in the east China.

Beijing announced the establishment of the ADIZ 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.

Two days earlier, the US defied the zone by deploying B-52 bombers which flew over the area for over two hours. Chinese military said it monitored the planes.

This was followed by flights by Japanese and South Korean defence planes yesterday into the ADIZ, adding to the international defiance of Chinese authority to enforce the controversial zone.

The flights violated the rule stipulated by China that planes transiting the zone must file flight plans. It made Chinese zone look ineffective both at home and abroad.

Putting up a strong defence of the ADIZ, the Chinese foreign ministry lambasted European Union and Japan for criticising the zone.

There are several countries within the EU which have ADIZs, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters here today referring to EU officials criticism in this regard.

"So I do not know whether the situation in the EU is getting tense as a result of the ADIZs there. The EU can have ADIZ why cannot China have it," he asked.

Similarly, he attacked Japan`s plans to hold ASEAN summit against China`s ADIZ.

"We want Japan to tell other countries whether it has ADIZ or not. When Japan set up and expanded several times its ADIZ, did it had consultations with other countries. How large is Japan`s ADIZ," he asked.

Japan is setting fire and not allowing others to even light a lamp, Qing said.

"It is inflammatory and such attitude is completely unreasonable and (smacks of) ulterior motives," he said.

Answering a question about the overlapping areas between Chinese and Japanese ADIZs, Qin said China wants to enhance communication to jointly preserve flight security.

On the disputes about the Diaoyu Islands, Qin said the current difficulty is that the Japanese side has always shunned substantial talks with China.
"We hope the Japanese side will not only talk about dialogue, but do so with tangible efforts," he said.
More than 20 countries, including the US, Japan and Australia, have set up their own air defense identification zones since the 1950s.

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