US forces operating ‘normally’ in China air zone

US forces operating ‘normally’ in China air zone

BEIJING - US military chiefs insist they will not change their operations despite a move by China to scramble fighter jets to monitor American and Japanese aircraft in Beijing's newly declared air defence zone.

China flew warplanes into its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Friday, Chinese state media said, nearly a week after it announced the zone, which covers islands at the centre of a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, raising regional tensions.

The Xinhua report indicated that Japan and the United States are continuing to disregard China's demands that aircraft submit flight plans when traversing the area in the East China Sea or face unspecified "defensive emergency measures".

"We have flights routinely transiting international airspace throughout the Pacific, including the area China is including in their ADIZ," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said on Friday.

"These flights are consistent with long-standing and well-known US freedom of navigation policies that are applied in many areas of operation around the world. I can confirm that the US has and will continue to operate in the area as normal."

Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke earlier said several combat aircraft were scrambled to "verify the identities" of US and Japanese aircraft entering the air defence zone, according to Xinhua.

The Chinese planes, which included at least two fighter jets, identified two US surveillance aircraft and 10 Japanese aircraft including an F-15 warplane, Shen said.

The United States, South Korea, Japan and other countries have accused Beijing of increasing regional tensions with its new air defence zone.

Japan and South Korea both said Thursday they had disregarded the ADIZ, showing a united front after US B-52 bombers also entered the area.

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