China military planes flew close to disputed isles: report

Agence France-Presse. April 29th, 2013

China military planes flew close to disputed isles: report

Chinese  military planes, mostly fighter jets, made more than 40 flights close to  Tokyo-controlled islands at the center of a territorial dispute on a single day  this week, a press report said Saturday.

The flights took place on Tuesday, when eight Chinese marine surveillance  ships entered the 12-nautical-mile territorial zone off the islands in the East China Sea,  which Japan  calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyus, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper  reported.

The conservative daily, citing senior government officials, said F-15 fighter  planes from an airbase on the Japanese island of Okinawa scrambled to intercept  the Chinese aircraft which flew in waves towards the skies over the islands.

“It was an unprecedented threat,” one of the officials was quoted as  saying.

Another said: “If such a show of force continues, it is feared it could lead  to a situation where the (Japanese) air defence force may not be able to  cope.”

The report said the military planes included updated Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighter  aircraft.

The report, which did not say whether the planes intruded into Japan’s  airspace, could not be immediately confirmed by Japan’s Defence Ministry.

Chinese government ships have frequently sailed around the five  Tokyo-controlled islands in recent months sparking diplomatic clashes.

But Tuesday’s flotilla was the biggest to sail into the disputed waters in a  single day since Tokyo nationalized part of the island chain in September.

On December 13, a Y-12 turbo-prop plane from China’s State Oceanic  Administration breached airspace over the disputed islands, prompting the launch  of Japanese F-15s.

It was the first known incursion ever by a Chinese plane into Japanese  airspace, the government said at the time

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