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China says no to air defence zone on Sino-Indian border

world Updated: Nov 28, 2013 23:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

China on Thursday ruled out demarcating an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) along its border with India, saying that by its very definition such zones are only marked off coastal areas like the one it has defined over the East China Sea.

Beijing has faced sharp international criticism after demarcating an ADIZ over large swathes of the East China Sea where it has a running feud with Japan over the ownership of the Diaoyutai (Senkaku in Japanese) islands.

Under the ADIZ rules, aircraft flying over the zone will have to submit flight plans and details to Chinese authorities.

The US, Japan and Australia were among the first to criticise the new zone, saying it could escalate the tense situation in the East and South China seas.

At a strategic defence dialogue held in Beijing on Thursday, China rejected South Korea's claim to rectify the zone.

On Tuesday, the US flew two unarmed B-52 bombers over the zone in an apparent show of diplomatic defiance. Japanese military and civilian aircraft have also flown over the zone without complying with the Chinese diktat.

Foreign ministry spokesperson, Qin Gang faced a barrage of questions on Thursday on the ADIZ including one on whether China had similar plans along its long, contentious western border with India.

"I want to clarify that on the concept of ADIZ, it is an area of airspace established by coastal state beyond its territorial airspace. So the question does not arise," Qin said at the regular press briefing.

Questions were also raised about China setting up an ADIZ over the troubled waters of the South China Sea where Beijing is embroiled in a feud over islands with several neighbours.

While the foreign ministry has not commented on the issue of an ADIZ over the South China Sea, the Chinese defence ministry has kept the option open, saying that it will set up one when required and when China is prepared for it.

"China will establish other air defence identification zones at an appropriate time after completing preparation," the defence ministry said.

On the issue of civilian aircraft flying through the ADIZ, Qin said the zone was not targeted at civilian airlines, but indicated that flight plans would anyway have to be submitted to Chinese air defence authorities.

"First, I want to reiterate China's establishment of the ADIZ is not directed against normal international civil aviation. We hope the countries can cooperate to make flights more secure.

In accordance with the announcement of the ADIZ, China has the right to identify any aircraft within the ADIZ," Qin said, adding that normal flights of foreign airlines would not be affected by the ADIZ.

The defence ministry said the zone was not an expansion of Chinese air space, but only an attempt to effectively safeguard the area.

The purpose is to safeguard territorial and air space security and exercise China's right of self defence, a defence ministry spokesperson said at a press conference where foreign reporters were not allowed in.

The spokesperson added the zone was designed to identify, control and react to potential threats.