Beijing: China today hit back at Japan for disrupting “normal flight routines” over disputed islands in the East China Sea and accused Japanese planes of creating “trouble” in the airspace.

The Chinese military defended flying its warplanes near the Japanese fighter jets, saying the behaviour of the Chinese pilot is “professional”, and also praised them.

China has evidence that Japanese warplanes disrupted Chinese military jets’ normal flight routines, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said.

He was reacting to Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s allegation that a recent encounter between Chinese and Japanese warplanes was a move that could easily lead to misjudgement.

Geng said: “the Chinese pilot’s behaviour is professional and conforms with policy.”

“More than ten times since the China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) was established, Japanese military planes have approached Chinese warplanes on patrol missions, disrupting normal flying,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Geng as saying.

“We have dealt with the dangerous Japanese close surveillance, and we have evidence,” he said.

He said a Chinese fighter was closely tracked by two Japanese F-15 fighters for 34 minutes on November 23, with the narrowest distance of about ten metres.

China’s policy related to the ADIZ conforms with international practice to deploy warplanes to recognise and verify foreign military jets which enter such zones, he said.

“Who is really making trouble in the air space?”, Geng asked, saying that it is groundless for the Japanese side to put the blame on its victim rather than review its own mistakes.

In November, China declared an ADIZ over a region of the East China Sea, overlapping a similar Japanese zone and covering islands bitterly disputed between the two nations.

The Tokyo-controlled outcrops are known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

Chinese state-owned ships and aircraft have periodically approached the islands to assert Beijing’s claim to them.

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