China on Monday said it hoped India’s relations with Japan would be “conducive” to regional peace and stability, against the backdrop of rising tensions between Beijing and Tokyo and a high-profile visit by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to India.
The on-going week-long and rare visit to India by the Japanese Royal couple has underlined the deepening ties between the two countries. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December 2012, has made clear his intention to not only boost economic ties and investment, but also expand the strategic relationship. Mr. Abe is expected to visit India next month.
The Abe government's keenness to push ties with India comes amid renewed tensions with China over the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. In recent days, China’s move to set up an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the disputed islands has further strained ties.
Asked how China viewed the on-going visit by Emperor Akihito and recently warming India-Japan ties, the Chinese Foreign Ministry here said it hoped the relationship would be favourable to regional stability.
“We hope that development of bilateral relations by the relevant countries will be conducive to regional peace, stability and development,” spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters at a regular press-briefing.
India has, so far, not commented on the rising tensions between China and Japan. China, on Monday, continued to strongly defend its move, announced last week, to set up an ADIZ, pointing out that several countries, such as the United States and Japan, had already established such areas beyond their territorial airspace to track aircraft.
ADIZ areas are not territorial claims, but defined zones in international airspace within which countries monitor aircraft heading towards their territorial airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from coastlines.
Mr. Hong said the “Japanese ADIZ, established in the 1960s [in 1969] illegally included the Diaoyu islands, and China is firmly opposed to it”.
He said China was willing to “increase dialogue and communication to safeguard flights in overlapping areas” of the two countries’ defence zones, but hit out at Japan for refusing dialogue, “creating frictions" and "undermining" regional stability.
Japan has, on the other hand, warned that China’s unilateral move to set up an ADIZ over disputed areas could trigger “unexpected incidents”.
China’s ADIZ announcement has concerned several countries in the region, including Japan and South Korea, as the air defence zone stretches over strategically important areas in the East China Sea. Both countries, as well as the United States, have made clear that their air patrols will not follow Chinese demands of filing flight plans in advance.
On Monday, Taiwan said its military jets had made around 30 flights into the Chinese ADIZ, indicating that it would also not comply with the rules. Meanwhile, South Korean media reports said the government in Seoul now plans to widen its air defence zone to include the Leodo reef, which is under South Korea's control but falls within both the Japanese and newly set up Chinese air defence zones.