China condemns 'irresponsible' warning over South China Sea
February 11, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
BEIJING--China condemned the U.S. Pacific air force commander Monday for “irresponsible remarks” after he warned it would be provocative if Beijing declared an air defense zone over the South China Sea.
The response ratchets up a war of words also involving the Philippines and Japan over territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas respectively.
Beijing set up an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) over the latter waters in November that included contested islands claimed by it and Tokyo, prompting condemnation by Washington.
Amid concerns Beijing may do the same to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea, U.S. Pacific Air Force Commander Herbert Carlisle said on Sunday such a step would be “very provocative.”
At a regular press briefing on Monday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying hit back, saying that “setting up an air defense identification zone is a reasonable right for any sovereign state to exercise.”
“Relevant officials should reflect carefully on what standing they have to make any irresponsible remarks about China's exercising its own reasonable and legitimate rights.”
Pointing out that the U.S. and other countries also have ADIZs, she asked, “Why can only China not (do the same)?”
“We hope that relevant countries and officials can stop making irresponsible comments,” she said.
Beijing requires aircraft flying through its ADIZ to identify themselves and maintain communication with Chinese authorities, but the zone is not a claim of sovereignty.
Carlisle also criticized recent actions by Manila and in particular Tokyo, saying that many countries needed to act to de-escalate tensions.