MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines on Thursday rejected China's newly declared air defense zone in the East China Sea as infringing on the freedom to fly in international airspace and compromising the safety of civil aviation.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said China's Air Defense Identification Zone threatens the national security of affected states and "transforms the entire air zone" into China's "domestic airspace."

The U.S. and Japan have said they don't acknowledge the zone. Taiwan and South Korea have also rejected the zone, where foreign aircraft could be asked to identify themselves and accept Chinese instructions.

China and the Philippines have had territorial spats over South China Sea areas for years.

Filipino aviation official John Andrews says China can declare a similar zone over contested South China Sea areas where Philippine aircraft fly.