BEIJING China said on Thursday the United States should respect its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), after Chinese officials warned a U.S. bomber it was illegally flying inside China's self-declared zone in the East China Sea.
The Pentagon rejected the Chinese call and said it would continue its flight operations in the region.
China declared the zone, in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, in the East China Sea in 2013, which the United States and Japan have refused to recognise.
CNN, citing the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said a B-1 bomber was flying near South Korea on Sunday, and that its pilots responded to Chinese air traffic controllers by saying they were carrying out routine operations in international airspace. The aircraft did not deviate from its flight path.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had not heard of the matter, and referred questions to the Defence Ministry, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"But, generally speaking, I hope that in this region all countries' actions consider the security concerns of relevant countries and be beneficial for mutual trust, peace and stability between countries," Hua told a daily news briefing.
"The United States has its own ADIZs. I think if this matter is true, they should respect China's relevant ADIZ rights," she added, without elaborating.
A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, Commander Gary Ross, said the United States viewed China's establishment of an East China Sea ADIZ in 2013 as "a unilateral change to the status quo ... that raises regional tensions and increases the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents."
He said the U.S. military would not change how it conducts its operations.
"The United States will not acquiesce to unilateral acts of other States designed to restrict the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace, as reflected in international law," he said."We do not accept, nor do we recognise, the East China Sea ADIZ declared by China," he said.
The U.S. Air Force deployed a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber for bilateral training missions in Japanese and South Korean airspace on Tuesday, a show of force in response to recent North Korean missile tests.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Nick Macfie and Peter Cooney)