The governments of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are split in their response to China’s new air defence plan.
The Beijing government has insisted that all non-Chinese aircraft flying over a large swathe of the East China Sea must submit their flight plans to China in advance. And while Japan has asked its airlines not to comply with the request, the China News Agency reported this week that Taiwan’s government has advised its airlines to cooperate.
“Major Taiwanese airlines are submitting flight plans to mainland China’s civil aviation agency, which is then passing them on to Chinese military authorities,” Taiwan’s Transport Minister, Yeh Kuang-shih, was reported saying on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Japan’s major airlines have agreed to take the Japanese government’s stance, defying the new Chinese regulations. It was initially reported by Chinese state media that ANA and JAL had started submitting plans to China. But in a statement appearing on its website today, JAL said it would continue to operate flights “through affected area without submission of flight plans to China”.
The decision followed advice from the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan, which said that flying through the zone would have “no impact on safety”.
South Korea has also said its carriers will not inform Chinese authorities prior to flying over the newly demarcated area.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government reiterated its stance on Wednesday, after two US B-52 bombers were seen flying over the sensitive area.
“We need to stress that China will identify every aircraft flying in the air defence identification zone according to the country’s announcement,” a spokesperson for China’s Defence Ministry, Geng Yansheng, was quoted saying by Xinhua. “China is capable of exercising effective control over this airspace,” he added.
Several countries, including the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia, have expressed concern over China’s air defence plan, which is believed to be related to the long-running dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands.