North Korean missile recklessness deserves firm response from China

By Wang Hongguang Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-11 19:58:01

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense stated last week that North Korea had fired two short-range missiles to the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula and that a China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers on the Tokyo-Shenyang route passed through the trajectory of one of these rockets only six minutes later.

However, the news has not drawn sufficient attention from pertinent authorities and the general public.

There are even opinions rampant online that Seoul is "making a fuss about it" and "provoking dissension between Beijing and Pyongyang."

But if the news is true, from a military perspective, the act by North Korea was highly risky because the rocket could have hit the aircraft on its way down.

Under usual conditions, military exercise command centers should coordinate with air traffic control authorities in case military exercises accidentally cross the routes of regular air travel.

Sometimes, the airlines are required to adjust their routes and flying time for the convenience of the military actions in order to ensure the absolute safety of travellers.

The North launched the missiles off the east coast to the direction of the Sea of Japan. Given that they were far from China's territory, it would be difficult for us to track their trajectory.

Because the launch was anticipated to pass through the Tokyo-Shenyang airline route, which might trigger deadly threats to the safety of flights on this passage, Pyongyang should have informed China and its relevant aviation bodies in advance.

Nonetheless, North Korea knew clearly that the missiles would run across this airline and could see from its radar that the China Southern Airlines passenger jet was expected to fly into the danger zone. But it still gave the order to fire.

Our northern neighbor manifested a rather unfriendly attitude toward China and we must take actions and mobilize related departments to deal with it.

It is improper to downplay the hazard by commenting that "Without any doubt, China will verify the relevant situation with the relevant party and express necessary concerns over that." Instead, the Chinese authorities should strongly criticize such an irresponsible act and make North Korea ensure that no similar incident will happen.

The author is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region of the People's Liberation Army.

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