China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Chinese and Russian warplanes did not enter South Korean airspace, despite Seoul’s statement that it had to respond to an intrusion into its air defense identification zone.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing that Chinese and Russian fighter aircraft conducted planned training. “During this training, Chinese and Russian warplanes strictly abided by international law and did not enter the air space of South Korea,” Zhao said.

Seoul said on Tuesday that four Chinese military aircraft and 15 Russian planes entered its air defense identification zone during their combined training. However, none breached South Korea’s territorial airspace, according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff.

The air defense identification zone covers both South Korean airspace and partially the area referred to as international airspace to identify civil aircraft, though the concept of such zones is not sealed in international law.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday that two Russian Tu-95MS and four Chinese H-6K strategic bombers carried out the second joint air patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The aircraft of both countries operated “in strict compliance with the provisions of international law,” the Russian military states.

Japan’s Defense Ministry also said on Tuesday that its air force scrambled fighter jets to track the bombers, which flew over the disputed Takeshima-Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan.

The “intrusion” of warplanes comes as Seoul and Beijing work to arrange Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Korea. The trip, however, has already been delayed due to the third wave of the pandemic in South Korea.

On Wednesday, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun expressed concern over the entry of Chinese warplanes during a video call with his Chinese counterpart.

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