KUALA LUMPUR (Dispatches) - Malaysia says it is to summon China’s ambassador after 16 Chinese military aircraft flew over disputed waters off its eastern state of Sarawak.
Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the transport planes after detecting “suspicious” activity over the South China Sea.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry described the maneuver as a “serious threat to national sovereignty”.
China, however, said its aircraft had abided by international law.
A day earlier, Malaysia scrambled its jet fighters to confront Chinese aircraft passing over airspace disputed between the two neighboring Asian countries.
Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jet planes, RMAF said in its statement
RMAF said the flights of the Chinese aircraft were first detected by its Air Defense Center in Sarawak at 11.53 a.m. on Monday, approaching the Kota Kinabalu Flight Information Region from the south.
Sixteen Chinese aircraft “flying in tactical formation” were detected between 23,000 feet and 27,000 feet above sea level at a speed of 290 knots, entering Malaysia’s maritime zone, it noted.
The RMAF statement added that the Chinese pilots did not respond to Malaysian air traffic controllers’ repeated calls demanding the aircraft to identify themselves.
After getting no response, to undertake “visual identification” of the approaching aircraft, the Malaysian air force scrambled Hawk 208 fighter jets from the 6th squadron of its Labuan Air Base.
The aircraft were subsequently identified to be PLAAF Ilyushin 1l-76s and Xian Y-20s planes.
The Chinese aircraft later left from the south, it noted.
The Malaysian air force said taking into consideration the number of flights in the airspace, the unauthorized overflight of Chinese aircraft posed a “serious threat.”
“This incident is a serious threat to national sovereignty and flight safety,” it stated.
China is involved in territorial disputes with a number of countries over the South China Sea.
Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei have overlapping claims with China to parts of the Sea.
Provocative maneuvers by the United States in the region have complicated the situation.