China on Monday played down the political and diplomatic impact of Japanese Emperor Akihito’s rare visit to India but continued to sharply criticise Tokyo’s stand on the issue of the controversial maritime zone over the East China Sea.
The setting up of the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) by Beijing over the East China Sea, which has an island cluster disputed between China and Japan, has seen simmering tension -- especially between the two countries with a history of occupation -- rise in the region.
Japan has flown fighter and civilian aircraft through the AIDZ without informing China.
Tokyo has also advised its civilian carriers not to inform Chinese authorities – as Beijing wants all aircraft to if they are flying over the ADIZ – about their flight plans.
And the visit of the Japanese Emperor and his wife to India this very week was expected to irk China, which frets over Japan’s efforts to align with countries seen as against China.
The Chinese state media often carries commentaries urging India not to join Japan and the United States in their efforts – as perceived by the government – to control China’s rise in the region.
Recently, a top Chinese scholar on international relations, Professor Yan Xuetong, had told HT that Beijing would be happy if India kept a neutral position in the disputes and tension between China and Japan.
But both Indian and Japanese media have hailed the visit to have the potential to mark a radical change in bilateral relations between New Delhi and Tokyo.
Answering a question on Akihito’s India visit, foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, only said that bilateral diplomatic ties between the countries, without taking either India or Japan’s name, should foster peace in the region.
“Hope that the development of bilateral relations between the relevant countries will be conducive to regional peace, stability and development,” Hong said at the regular press briefing on Monday.
Hong, however, was scathing on Japan’s ADIZ stand. He “commended” that US’s decision to advise its civilian airlines to share their flight plans with China.
“On the other hand, Japan is deliberately politicising the issue. It will do no good not to cooperate in the field of civil aviation. We urge Japan to stop these accusations. We appeal to Japan to jointly maintain the security of air space over the East China Sea,” Hong said.
South Korea to expand its ADIZ
South Korea has nearly finalised plans for a new air defense zone that includes an ocean research station built on an underwater reef and southern islands, Seoul's officials were quoted by the Yonhap agency, on Monday.
China’s ADIZ overlaps those of South Korea as well and raised tension in Northeast Asia, Yonhap added.
When asked about the development, Hong said that China had noted relevant reports.
“We want to point out that the ADIZ is an area of airspace established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace. It’s not a no-fly zone. The expansion of the (South Korean) AIDZ, we hope, will follow relevant international laws,” he said.