China says it will launch a ‘resolute’ counterattack if Japan takes ‘willful measures’ to shoot down Chinese planes.
Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman Geng Yansheng said in a statement issued on Saturday, “If Japan takes willful measures to shoot down China’s planes, we will regard it as severe provocation and an act of war, we will strike back resolutely. All consequences should be borne by the side that causes the trouble.”
The official warned Tokyo not to underestimate China’s firm will and determination to protect its interests and territorial sovereignty.
“Japan’s belligerent rhetoric is deliberately provocative. Normal training and flights of China’s military planes including unmanned planes in waters of the East China Sea accords with international law and international practices. China’s planes have never infringed airspace of other countries, and China never allows planes of other countries to infringe its airspace,” Geng stated.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that Tokyo is ready to be more assertive towards China.
Reports indicated that Abe has also approved a move to shoot down Chinese drones if they fly over Japan’s airspace.
China has long been engaged in a dispute with Japan over the sovereignty of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyus in Chinese and as Senkakus in Japanese.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing is ready to hold talks with Japan over the maritime row. Wang also blamed Japan for the rising tensions between the two countries.
Tokyo signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.
China maintains that the islands are an inherent part of its territory and it has indisputable sovereignty over them. Japanese government, on the other hand, regards the islands as a part of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.
The islands have been under Japanese administrative control since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan from US administrative rule in 1972.
Potentially large deposits of natural gas off the islands are believed to be the source of the territorial dispute.