© KYODO Kyodo / Reuters/REUTERS
A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in this 2012 East China Sea photo.
Chinese military officials scrambled a pair of fighter planes Friday after a dozen U.S. and Japanese planes ignored its new air defense zone restrictions.
The jets dispatched by China simply identified the foreign planes and the type of aircraft without taking any further action, officials said.
The Chinese patrol mission was “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices,” said Shen Jinke, a spokesman for China’s air force, as reported by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
A pair of U.S. spy crafts was among the 12 planes flying through a remote stretch of the East China Sea between China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
Chinese officials — in a move to grab control of several uninhabited islands now under Japanese rule — announced on Nov. 23 that planes entering the zone needed to advise their nation in advance.
Ties between China and Japan have been strained for months by the dispute over the islands in the East China Sea, called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan. The islands are currently under Japanese administrative control.
Earlier this week, Washington sent two unarmed B-52 bombers through the airspace without first informing Beijing, a sign of support for its ally Japan.
Although there are risks of a confrontation in the defense zone, U.S. and Chinese military officials have stepped up communication with each other in recent years and are in regular contact to avoid accidental clashes breaking out.
The U.S. State Department said Friday it has advised air carriers to comply with China’s demand.
Vice President Biden will address the increased airspace tension during a visit next week.
With News Wire Services