KUALA LUMPUR (June 2): A day after Malaysia announced the instrusion of 16 Chinese military aircraft into Malaysian airspace, Beijing said the reported activities were routine flight training of its air force and did not target any country.
“According to relevant international law, Chinese military aircraft enjoy the freedom of overflight in the relevant airspace,” a spokesman of the Chinese embassy here said in a statement today.
“During this training, the Chinese military aircraft strictly abided by the relevant international law and did not enter the territorial airspace of any other country.
“China and Malaysia are friendly neighbors, and China is willing to continue bilateral friendly consultations with Malaysia to jointly maintain regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson added.
China also has been in touch with Malaysian officials over the matter, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing in Beijing today.
“China’s military was conducting routine flight exercises near the Nansha Islands, was strictly following international law, and did not violate any foreign airspace,” he said.
The development comes amid China’s competing claims to areas in the South China Sea. Malaysia is one of several countries in the region that disputes China’s extensive claims while Beijing regularly asserts sovereignty over about four-fifths of the waters.
Last night, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein said Wisma Putra will issue a diplomatic note to protest to the Chinese government against the intrusion of the 16 Chinese aircraft into Malaysian airspace.
Hishammuddin said in a statement that the Ministry also will summon China's ambassador to Malaysia to provide an explanation regarding this breach of the Malaysian airspace and sovereignty.
"Malaysia’s stand is clear — having friendly diplomatic relations with any countries does not mean that we will compromise our national security. Malaysia remains steadfast in defending our dignity and our sovereignty," he said.
Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) chief Gen Tan Sri Ackbal Abdul Samad said RMAF yesterday detected the 16 aircraft flying close to the national airspace over the Malaysian Maritime Zone.
He said the suspicious flight of the aircraft was detected by the RMAF Air Defence Radar from the Air Defence Centre in Sarawak at 11.53am.