China warns Japan over reported plan to shoot down drones

BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- China warned Japan on Tuesday against "playing up" tension after Tokyo reportedly approved a plan to intercept and shoot down any foreign drones if they ignore warnings to leave Japanese airspace.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks in response to a report by Japan's Kyodo news agency on Sunday, which cited a "source close to the government," that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the plan.

If confirmed, the move would signal Tokyo's readiness to unilaterally respond to an increasingly acrimonious territorial dispute with Beijing over a set of islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Last month, a Chinese military drone was reportedly spotted near Okinawa.

"Due to historical reasons, Japan's political moves in the military and security fields have always received high attention from its Asian neighbors and the international community," Hua said during a regular press briefing.

"For some time, Japan has been deliberately playing up the so-called external threat and ratcheting up tension and confrontation between regional countries and using that as an excuse for constant military build-up," the spokeswoman said.

Hua said, "(China) cannot but be on high alert to Japan's real intent."

"I want to reiterate that the Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of China's territory," Hua said, adding, "(China) will resolutely respond to any external provocation."

Relations between South Korea and Japan have also remained frosty due to Japan's repeated claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo and its unrepentant attitude toward its wartime crimes.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>