US airlines advised compliance on China's flight notification demand

The US has advised its airlines to comply with China's demand for notification of any flights passing through its new maritime air defense zone over the East China Sea, an area where, Beijing says it launched two fighter planes to investigate a dozen American and Japanese reconnaissance and military flights.

It was the first time since proclaiming the zone on 23 November that China said it sent planes there on the same day as foreign military flights, although it added, the planes were only identified and no further action was taken.

China announced last week that all aircraft entering the zone, a maritime area between China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan would need to notify Chinese authorities beforehand and that it would take unspecified defensive measures against those that failed to comply.

Neighbouring countries and the US have said they would not honour the new zone - believed to be aimed at claiming disputed territory and said it unnecessarily raise tensions.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement yesterday, that the US remained deeply concerned about the country's declared air identification zone, adding however, it was advising US air carriers abroad to comply with notification requirements issued by the country.

According to commentators, China was now faced with a delicate balancing act as it grappled with regional anxieties on the one hand, and on the other, domestic pressure to not appear weak.

China said yesterday, it scrambled fighter jets to identify and tail 12 American and Japanese aircraft that had, recently entered its newly established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), which revealed regional tensions over the contested area.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force scrambled two fighter planes for the investigation of flights by two US surveillance aircraft as also a deployment by 10 Japanese aircraft that included one F-15 fighter, according to air force spokesman Shen Jinke reported by the official Xinhua news agency.

Colonel Shen said on Thursday that China had also deployed a number of its most advanced fighter jets and an early warning aircraft for patrolling the ADIZ over the disputed East China Sea, even as Japan and South Korea, earlier this week, carried out their own air patrols defying China's plan to enforce its control over the area.

He termed the deployment as ''a defensive measure and in line with international common practices''.