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China calls on Japan to end jet scrambles

Reuters | Friday, Oct 31, 2014

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's PC3 surveillance plane flies around the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

BEIJING - China called on Japan on Thursday to stop scrambling its jets against Chinese aircraft following a rise in the number of such operations, saying it was source of flying safety concerns.

Tension has been high between Asia's two largest economies in recent months, with each accusing the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a long-running territorial dispute.

Both sides claim a string of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Beijing declared an air defence zone covering most of the East China Sea last year, sparking protests from Japan and the United States.

Japan's fighter jet scrambles against Chinese planes rose 29 per cent to 103 in July-September, accounting for more than half of Tokyo's total scrambles in the three-month period, data from the country's Defence Ministry shows.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Beijing had noticed these numbers.

"These figures announced by Japan show exactly the increase in the frequency of Japan tailing, observing and interfering with Chinese military aircraft," Yang told a monthly news briefing.

"These kinds of acts by Japan are the cause of the China-Japan aviation safety problem, and we urge Japan to stop their mistaken ways."

In June, China summoned Japan's defence attache to lodge a protest after the two countries traded accusations over the conduct of military jets over the East China Sea.

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