Nov. 27, 2013
BEIJING (AP) — China said Wednesday it monitored two unarmed U.S. bombers that flew over the East China Sea in defiance of Beijing’s declaration it is exercising greater military control over the area.
Tuesday’s flight of the B-52 bombers underscored U.S. assertions that it will not comply with Chinese demands that aircraft flying through its newly declared maritime air defense zone identify themselves and accept Chinese instructions.
A Chinese Defense Ministry statement Wednesday said the planes were detected and monitored as they flew through the zone for two hours and 22 minutes. It said all aircraft flying through the zone would be monitored, but made no mention of a threat to take “defensive emergency measures” against noncompliant aircraft that was included in an announcement on Saturday.
“China has the capability to exercise effective control over the relevant airspace,” said the brief statement, attributed to an unidentified ministry spokesman.
Asked repeatedly about the incident at a regularly scheduled briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said it had been handled according to procedures laid out in the Saturday statement but offered no specifics.
“Different situations will be dealt with according to that statement,” Qin said.
The U.S. described the flights as a training mission and said they were not flown in response to China’s move to assert its claim of sovereignty over a group of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan. U.S. officials said the two B-52 bombers took off from their home base in Guam around midday and were in the zone that encompasses the disputed islands for less than an hour before returning to their base, adding the aircraft encountered no problems.
The bomber flights came after State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said China’s move appeared to be an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea.