(CNN)Japanese military aircraft are increasingly engaging in dangerous intercepts of Chinese planes, putting the safety of Chinese fliers at risk and damaging bilateral relations, China’s Defense Ministry said Thursday.
Japan reported earlier this month that it has scrambled its warplanes 407 times between April 1 and September 30 in reaction to increased Chinese military flights near Japanese airspace.
That’s almost double the number of intercepts Japan’s Air Self Defense Force made on Chinese aircraft in the same period in 2015.
“Such high-frequency reconnaissance against China not only disturbs the routine training of the Chinese military but also undermines the security interests of China,” Col. Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said at a briefing on Thursday.
Shen Jinke,an official with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said that a fleet of 40 aircraft were sent to the West Pacific via the Miyako Strait for a “routine drill on the high seas,” according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The fleet, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers, simulated reconnaissance and early warning attacks on sea-surface targets. It also conducted in-flight refueling to test the Air Force’s fighting capacity, Xinhua added.
The report added that the fleet conducted routine patrols in China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which the countryset up in the East China Sea in 2013despite objections from Tokyo and Washington.
Japan rejects the ADIZ, which encompasses disputed islands that are known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Japan also has an ADIZ over the islands, which it administers.
Both China and Japan claim ownership of the islandsand tensions have flared numerous times in recent years.
While they are uninhabited, their ownership would allow for exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.