Beijing [China], June 3 (ANI): China has said that it has conveyed to Malaysia that a flight of 16 Chinese military planes over hotly contested waters in the South China Sea was a "routine training" and does not target any country.
During a daily press briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China's air force strictly complied with international law and didn't enter the air space of any other country.
"To my knowledge, it was a routine training conducted by China's air force over waters to the south of Nansha Islands. It doesn't target any country. During the training, China's air force strictly complied with international law and didn't enter the air space of any other country. The Chinese side has communicated with the Malaysian side over this," Wang said.
Malaysia's Air Force on Monday said it scrambled jets to conduct visual confirmation after China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) planes flew within 60 nautical miles off Sarawak state of Malaysian Borneo, reported CNN.
It described the incident as a "serious threat to national sovereignty and flight safety", adding that the Chinese planes did not contact regional air traffic control despite being instructed several times.
Malaysia foreign minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia will issue a note of diplomatic protest and ask China's ambassador to Malaysia to explain the "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 on our national security," the minister said in a statement.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Last year, a Chinese survey ship held a month-long standoff with a Malaysian oil exploration vessel within Malaysia's EEZ, reported CNN.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has lodged a protest against China's continuing "illegal presence and activities" near Pag-asa Islands last week. (ANI)