The United States said Wednesday that it had advised U.S. airlines to take necessary steps to operate safely over the East China Sea as tensions rise between China and U.S. ally Japan because of new airspace defense zone rules imposed by Beijing.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. is trying to determine whether the rules—which require planes flying near contested islands to identify themselves to Chinese authorities—cover other than military aircraft.
"We're attempting to determine whether the new rules apply to civil aviation and commercial air flight,'' Psaki told a daily briefing.
"In the meantime, U.S. air carriers are being advised to take all steps they consider necessary to operate safely in the East China Sea,'' she said. "Obviously, the safety of airplanes is key ... and we're looking into what this means.''
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Asked whether U.S. carriers would advise Chinese officials of their flight plans, Psaki said, "I wouldn't go that far—we're still looking at it.''
Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is set to meet Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin in Washington on Wednesday. Psaki said the meeting was planned long in advance.