China summons Japan defence attache over jets dispute

China summons Japan defence attache over jets dispute
A P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.

BEIJING - China summoned Japan's defence attache on Friday to lodge a protest after the two countries traded accusations over the conduct of military jets above disputed waters, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday.

Tensions flared between Asia's two largest economies last week, when each country accused the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets. "The Japanese side ignores reality and has flipped right and wrong, making groundless accusations," China's Defence Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Tokyo has "persistently taken it upon itself to stir up trouble, often irresponsibly inciting deception and making malicious attacks on the Chinese side," the statement added, calling on Tokyo to "immediately correct the error".

Tokyo lodged a protest on Wednesday, when Japan said Chinese fighter jets flew "abnormally close" to Japanese military aircraft over the East China Sea, a charge Beijing rejected.

On Thursday, China said two Japanese F-15 planes followed a Chinese Tu-154 aircraft, coming as close as 30 metres,"seriously affecting China's flight safety". It posted a video allegedly showing the incident on the defence ministry website, but Japanese officials said China's assertion was not true.

The tit-for-tat accusations and denials are part of a long-running territorial dispute between the two countries. They follow a similar incident on May 24, when Japan said Chinese aircraft came within a few dozen metres of its warplanes.

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.

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