China sends warplanes into disputed air defense zone

BEIJING — China has sent warplanes into its newly declared maritime air defense zone days after the U.S.South Korea and Japan all sent flights through the airspace in broadening rebelliousness of rules Beijing says it has imposed over the East China Sea.

China’s air force on Thursday sent several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft on normal air patrols in the zone, the Xinhua agency reported, citing air force spokesman Shen Jinke.

The report did not specify exactly when the flights were sent or whether they had ran into foreign military aircraft. The United States, Japan and South Korea have said they have sent military or coast guard flights through the zone without encountering any Chinese response since Beijing announced its creation last week.

Shen described Thursday’s flights as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices.” He said China’s air force would remain on high alert and will take measures to assist the country’s airspace. Chinese officials have said commercial flights are insensible by the new rules.

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