China, Japan Swap Charges Over East China Sea Aircraft Encounter

China and Japan traded accusations over two encounters between their military aircraft yesterday, with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera terming the events “dangerous” and China warning Japan not to intrude on its joint naval exercises with Russia.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said last night that Chinese SU-27 fighter jets flew unusually close to two of its military planes, an Air Self-Defense electronic intelligence aircraft and an OP-3C observation plane of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. Public broadcaster NHK later reported one Chinese fighter, apparently armed with missiles, flew within 30 meters of the MSDF’s YS-11EB.

Tensions between China and Japan have mounted over disputed islands in the East China Sea, where Chinese and Japanese ships regularly confront each other. The two countries also have overlapping air-defense identification zones over the waters.

China’s Defense Ministry said Japan must stop intruding into airspace where its navy is conducting exercises with Russia, or bear responsibility for “possible resulting consequences.” The maneuvers are “routine” and a no-fly notice was released earlier, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

China has made representations to the Japanese to respect its legitimate rights and stop all “detection and interference” activities, the ministry said.

Regional tensions between China and its neighbors have also mounted as it presses claims to the South China Sea with countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, triggering anti-China protests in Vietnam.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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