Tokyo: China scrambled two J-10 fighter jets to the East China Sea on Thursday to monitor a pair of Air Self-Defense Force F-15s that were shadowing one of Beijing’s patrol aircraft, the Chinese Defense Ministry reported on its website.
In a statement posted online by the ministry said that the Chinese aircraft was conducting routine patrol duties near oil and gas fields east of the coastal city of Wenzhou.
According to the Japan Times, the ASDF’s F-15 fighters ‘trailed and interfered with’ the Chinese planes, which were conducting regular military patrol exercises, the ministry said, arguing Thursday’s incident underscored the alleged increased surveillance activities by the Self-Defense Forces against China.
The ministry said that the Chinese J-10s also monitored a Japanese reconnaissance plane in the same airspace.
The ministry stressed that China will ‘resolutely defend the safety of its territorial air space and the rightful privileges under international law’, the report said.
The incident marks a further escalation in the dispute that erupted between the two countries in mid-September over the Senkaku Islands.
According to the report, Hong Lei, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, meanwhile used a press briefing in Beijing the same day to pin the blame for the ‘current difficulty’ between the two sides squarely on Japan.