TOKYO, May 26 ― Japan is accusing China of heightening tensions in the East China Sea after two pairs of Chinese jets flew extremely close to two Japanese surveillance planes in separate incidents on Saturday.
The flybys took place near the disputed islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. The airspace is claimed by both Japan and China.
The first incident involved a Japanese P-3C propeller-driven reconnaissance plane and two Chinese SU-27 fighter jets. Japan said that the two Chinese jets came as close as 50 metres from its surveillance plane.
On the same day, two Chinese SU-27s approached a YS-11EB, a reconnaissance plane developed by Japan. The Chinese jets were only 30 metres away from the Japanese aircraft, Japan said.
“We received a report from the crews that the fighter planes were armed with missiles,” Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said. He criticised the encounters as “over the top.”
While Japan condemned China for entering its airspace without authorisation, China accused Japan of collecting intelligence and interfering with a Chinese-Russian naval exercise that lasted from May 20 to May 26.
China also claimed that it had followed the international practice of issuing “no fly notices” ahead of the drill.
Japan said it would continue surveillance activities to safeguard its territory. ― Reuters