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China denounces Japan's reported move with ASEAN against air zone

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- China lashed out Friday at a Japanese media report that Tokyo would seek cooperation with Southeast Asian nations to challenge Beijing's newly declared air control zone over the East China Sea, labelling the reported move as "completely unreasonable."

China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remark, when asked about the report by Japan's Sankei newspaper earlier in the day that Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold a summit next month during which they would issue a statement against the Chinese air control zone.

"We have noticed the relevant report," Qin said during a regular briefing. "Such an act by Japan is completely unreasonable."

Regional tension has risen sharply following China's unilateral declaration last week of its new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea that also largely overlaps that of Japan and also encroaches upon South Korea's.

The United States, in a defiant move, flew two B-52 bombers through the new Chinese zone without informing Beijing. South Korea and Japan followed suit by flying their military planes through the Chinese zone this week.

In another thinly veiled accusation, Qin criticized Japan for raising tension.

"Some worried that the situation is somewhat tense," Qin said. "The tension is inflamed by some particular country," Qin said.

"To any country or any person, as long as they respect China's sovereignty and security, there is no necessity for them to feel tense," Qin said.

Adding further fuel to tensions, China's military sent several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft into the new zone on Thursday.

Asked whether the Thursday flights were aimed at responding to the earlier defiant flights by the U.S. bombers, Qin replied, "To my understanding, the Chinese military has the right to conduct flights in accordance with international laws."

Although Qin stressed that the Chinese ADIZ "is not directed at any specific country or target," China's state media on Friday pointedly said Japan is the "prime target" of the new air control zone.

In an editorial titled "Japan prime target of ADIZ tussle," China's official Global Times newspaper said, "We should carry out timely countermeasures without hesitation against Japan when it challenges China's newly declared ADIZ."

"If Tokyo flies its aircraft over the zone, we will be bound to send our planes to its ADIZ," the editorial said.

"If the trend continues, there will likely be friction and confrontations and even tension in the air like in the Cold War era between the U.S. and the Soviet Union," it said.

"It is therefore an urgent task for China to further train its air force to make full preparation for potential conflicts," the editorial said.

"We are willing to engage in a protracted confrontation with Japan. Our ultimate goal is to beat its willpower and ambition to instigate strategic confrontation against China," it said.

The newspaper said South Korea "understands it is not the target of China's ADIZ, plus it has tensions with Japan right now.

"Therefore, China has no need to change its actions toward South Korea," it said.

The Chinese air zone also includes a South Korean-controlled submerged rock of Ieodo, where Seoul's maritime research center is set up. On Thursday, South Korea and China held regular defense talks in Seoul during which Seoul demanded Beijing redraw the zone. China, however, rejected the demand.

Analysts said the Chinese declaration of air control zone is mainly aimed at bolstering its claims to a group of islets in the East China Sea at the center of a bitter territorial dispute with Japan, which are known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

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