South Korea has reportedly scrambled military jets to intercept a Chinese aircraft after entering its air defense territory, a third such incident since the beginning of the year.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Saturday that the Chinese aircraft was a military reconnaissance plane and had spent nearly four hours in the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone.
Beijing did not respond immediately to a request for comment after the incident.
Seoul had summoned the Chinese ambassador in February to officially lodge a complaint over the incursions.
China’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that the flights were fully in compliance with international law and practice, adding that “air defense identification zones are not territorial air space.”
The Chinese air force is increasingly active far from the country’s shores, including flying missions into the Western Pacific that often pass through a chain of southern Japanese islets and around self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own.
China says that it has no hostile intent.
The drill came after a US Navy destroyer on Friday sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island China has built in the South China Sea, provoking condemnation from Beijing.
Australia, Canada to send military aircraft to monitor North Korean ships
In a separate development on Saturday, Australia and Canada announced plans for the deployment of military patrol aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region to monitor North Korean vessels suspected of defying United Nations sanctions by transferring goods deemed prohibited by the international body.
The surveillance planes from both countries will reportedly be based in the US military’s Kadena air base on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa.
“We do have a P-8A surveillance aircraft that is going to be working in the region to monitor compliance with sanctions, and that is part of our collaboration with our partners in that exercise to enforce those UN sanctions,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a televised news conference.
“What has been occurring is that sanctions have been evaded by transferring materials from ship to ship… to add to the surveillance of the area enables that to be identified and then, of course, those who are a party to that to be held responsible and brought to account,” he noted.
The Australian premier said pressure had to be kept on Pyongyang to ensure the Korean Peninsula was denuclearized.
The announcements was made a day after the leaders of North and South Korea pledged at an historic summit to work for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The North Korean leader recently announced that he had suspended all the country’s nuclear and missile tests, which have drawn harsh sanctions from both the US and the UN.