China on Thursday accused Japanese military jets of endangering its aircraft, in the latest dust-up between the two countries over territory in the East China Sea.
The Chinese Defense Ministry accused Japanese warplanes of locking their radars on Chinese aircraft and engaging in “other unprofessional, dangerous provocative behavior,” Reuters reported. The accusation came after Japan’s military said its warplanes had scrambled to chase Chinese fighter jets a record number of times over the last six months.
China and Japan have been locked in a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, over which both nations claim sovereignty.
On Thursday, Wu Qian, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman, accused the Japanese Self-Defense Forces of endangering the safety of Chinese aircraft.
“What is more, when aircraft of the Japan Self-Defense Forces encounter Chinese aircraft, their radars light up, they let off infrared jamming projectiles, and show other unprofessional, dangerous provocative behavior,” Wu told reporters at a regular briefing.
“This endangers the safety [of] Chinese aircraft and personnel and is the root of the China-Japan maritime and air problem,” the spokesman continued.
This month, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force said that its fighter jets had scrambled Chinese aircraft on 407 occasions in the last six months of this year ending in September, more than 75 percent more than the number of incidents during the same period in 2015. Japan has also reported an increased number of incursions by Chinese vessels in waters surrounding the Senkakus in recent months.
China and Japan have also sparred over the South China Sea, where Japan has indicated it would like to conduct joint training patrols with the U.S. Navy. China claims most of the South China Sea as its territory and has built on disputed features in the region, despite an international tribunal ruling in July that Beijing’s territorial claims have no basis in history or law.
The U.S., Japan, and other regional powers have urged China to accept the ruling to no avail.
The U.S. military has sailed warships close to disputed islands in the South China Sea, in exercise of freedom of navigation through international waters.
Japan’s defense minister warned last month that China’s aggressive actions in the East and South China Seas could have global implications if they are not deterred.
“If the world condones coercive attempts to change the rules of the road in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and allow rule-bending to succeed in their waters and airspace, its consequences could become global, not to be confined in the Western Pacific,” Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, D.C.