China says Japan's "hype" on air defence zone spreads tension
BEIJING (REUTERS) - China does not feel threatened by countries in South-east Asia and is optimistic about the situation in the disputed South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said, warning Japan not to "spread rumours" it plans a new air defence identification zone.
China alarmed Japan, South Korea and the United States last year when it announced an air defence identification zone for the East China Sea, covering a group of uninhabited islands at the centre of a bitter ownership spat between China and Japan.
Last week, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun said China was considering setting up a similar zone - where foreign aircraft are supposed to report their movements to China - in the South China Sea, prompting the US State Department to warn against such a move.
In a statement released late on Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry implied there was no need for such a zone in the South China Sea, where China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan all have competing claims.