(Reuters) – Asian aviation officials said airlines would have to inform China of their flight plans before entering airspace over waters disputed with Japan, forcing carriers to acknowledge China’s authority over a newly declared “Air Defense Identification Zone”.

China published coordinates for the zone on the weekend. The area, about two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom, covers most of the East China Sea and the skies over a group of uninhabited islands at the center of a bitter row between Beijing and Tokyo.

While China said the new rules would not affect “normal operations” for international flights, it added that it would take “defensive emergency measures” against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly.

Japan and ally the United States have sharply criticized the move, warning of an escalation into the “unexpected” if Beijing enforces the rules. China’s Defense Ministry said on Monday it had lodged protests with both countries’ embassies in Beijing, saying such remarks were unfounded and irresponsible.

A transport ministry official in Seoul said South Korean planes flying in the new zone would notify China’s civil aviation authorities of their flight plans.

Yi Shin-Juang, deputy director of the air-traffic service division of the Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration, said Taiwanese carriers would issue similar notifications, but would not be required to adjust flight paths.

An official at the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau said Japanese airlines flying through the region to non-mainland Chinese destinations would likely need to inform China of their plans.

“Airlines have been advised to take greater care in the area,” said another bureau official.

Korean Air said China’s proclamation meant flight plans would have to be delivered to Chinese authorities but the routes its pilots took would not be affected.

Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings said the zone had not affected their flights through the area.

The zone was a problem for Japan, the United States and other countries that may be wary of any acknowledgement of China’s claims over the area, Asian and Western diplomats said. see more

source: reuters