Japan and China Trade Blame over Fighter Jets' Close Encounter
Japan and China trade blame over fighter jets' close encounter over disputed East China Sea Reuters file photo

China has strongly reacted to the Japanese air force scrambling jets and locking radars on to Chinese military aircraft. The Chinese defence ministry called Tokyo's actions "provocative".

China's reaction has come after Japan said it scrambled a record number of fighter jets in six months till September, in an apparent move to check foreign aircraft.

Japan scrambled to chase Chinese planes 407 times, but when compared to the same period last year it had scrambled jets only 231 times, according to Japan's Air Self Defence Forces. The Russian military is also reported to be increasing its presence in the Pacific and in response to its aircraft that are often bombers, Japan's air space intrusion rose 67% to 180.

"What is more, when aircraft of the Japan Self-Defence Forces encounter Chinese aircraft, their radars light up, they let off infrared jamming projectiles and show other unprofessional, dangerous provocative behaviour," Reuters cited Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian as saying.

"This endangers the safety Chinese aircraft and personnel and is the root of the China-Japan maritime and air problem."

He defended China's air force activities saying they were in accordance with international law and norms but accused Japan of meddling with its regular training exercises.

Beijing and Tokyo have long been at loggerheads over claims in the uninhabited East China Sea. China calls the group of islets as Diaoyu while Japan refers to them as Senkaku.

China's growing presence in the region has left many countries, including the US, which does not have any claims in the waters in Asia, worried. Japan is also reported to be concerned over China increasing its control over the South China Sea, with fears that it may soon turn to expanding its claims in the East China Sea and into the western Pacific waters.

Japan is said to be keen on boosting its regional ties with Vietnam and the Philippines in a bid to counter China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently on a visit to Japan, said on Thursday (27 October) that Manila might join naval exercises with Tokyo.

China's territorial disputes explained IBTimes UK