Singapore concerned over airspace tensions

Singapore concerned over airspace tensions

SINGAPORE - Singapore is concerned about the rising tensions over North- east Asia's airspace, given the Republic's role as an aviation hub and its interest in regional stability, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview aired on Friday.

In his first remarks on the issue since Beijing unilaterally declared an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) three weeks ago, he said Singapore has asked China to clarify what the zone means for civil aviation, or non-military private and commercial flights.

"What we would like to know is also what all the airlines would like to know... how do these new ADIZs affect aviation, overflights?" PM Lee told Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Specifically, Singapore is seeking answers on how the ADIZ will be implemented, what pilots will be required to do, and what will happen to regular flights through the region, he added.

The interview took place on Monday ahead of Mr Lee's trip to Tokyo, where he arrived on Thursday for the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit. His remarks come after South Korea, which he visited earlier this week, said on Sunday it would expand its own ADIZ to overlap with China's.

China's East China Sea ADIZ, announced on Nov 23, overlaps those of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Beijing insists that all aircraft flying through the zone - including commercial planes not entering China's airspace - must submit flight plans for approval.

Apart from civil aviation, Mr Lee said the Republic is also concerned about what the ADIZ situation implies for the "stability and security of the political relationship between the countries".

Noting that the recent ADIZ moves are the latest in a "long series of actions" stemming from longstanding issues in North-east Asia, he said these tensions will need to be addressed over time.

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