China faces tough choices on US bombers' challenge

China faces tough choices on US bombers' challenge
This photograph taken on October 24, 2013 in the South China Sea shows a US fighter jet being towed on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. The United States has significantly increased its warships and aircraft deployed in Asia despite Washington's budget woes, adding punch to its "pivot" to the region, a senior naval commander said.

China sidestepped calls for action after two unarmed American bombers flew over the East China Sea in defiance of its new air defence identification rules.

But some analysts say Beijing may be forced to respond if this happens again.

Japan's two biggest airlines on Wedneday also said they would stop providing flight plans required of planes passing through China's newly declared Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Beijing has warned of "defensive emergency measures" if aircraft do not comply with the rules for its air defence zone.

The Defence Ministry, which did not refer to these measures yesterday, said it had monitored the bombers' flight and insisted that China had "the ability to effectively manage and control" the airspace.

The ADIZ announcement last Saturday drew strong criticism from Japan and the United States, and also concern from countries such as Australia.

China's reaction to the US bombers disappointed some Chinese. Still, analysts warned that further attempts by Washington or Tokyo to challenge Beijing in the ADIZ could push the Chinese to take more muscular action.

China's new rules require foreign aircraft to supply a flight plan, clearly identify their nationality and maintain radio contact with the Chinese authorities.

But on Tuesday, a pair of B-52 bombers flew over disputed islands claimed by Japan and China in the East China Sea, underlining the US' assertions that it will not comply with Chinese demands.

This was followed by Japan's two main carriers - All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines - which passed through the area yesterday without notifying China, following the Japanese instructions to stop giving flight plans.

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