China condemns Japan PM Abe for criticising air defence zone
BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for "maliciously slandering" its air defence zone in an escalating war of words between the neighbours.
Mr Abe told a news conference on Saturday that China's recent announcement of the air defence identification zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea is "unjustly violating the freedom of aviation over the high seas" and demanded Beijing rescind it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended the zone, which has triggered protests from Japan, the United States and South Korea.
"We express strong dissatisfaction with Japan's leader using an international occasion to maliciously slander China," Mr Hong said in a statement seen on the ministry website on Sunday.