‘China’s ADIZ a threat’
The Philippines on Thursday raised alarm over threats that China may seek control of air space over contested areas of the South China Sea, including islands within its territory, after Beijing declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) above other disputed waters.
Even as this developed, Japan and Korea flew flights over China’s ADIZ a day after the United States sent two B-52s bombers over the same area, which Chinese state media described as a ‘provocation.’
|Photo shows a Japanese patrol plane flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and Diaoyu Islands in China in the East China Sea. China has declared an air defense zone that covers these islets. AFP|
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the strategically vital and potentially resource-rich South China Sea.
China insists it has sovereign rights to most of the sea, even waters and islands close to its neighbors.
China has been steadily increasing its military and coast guard presence in the sea in recent years to assert its claim, causing diplomatic tensions to rise and stoking concerns in the Philippines about perceived Chinese bullying.
Del Rosario also voiced concern over China’s declaration of the air defence zone in the East China Sea, where it is embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan.
“It transforms an entire air zone into China’s domestic air space. And that is an infringement, and compromises the safety of civil aviation,” del Rosario said.
“It also compromises the national security of affected states.”
Department spokesman Raul Hernandez, for his part, called on China to ensure that its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) “preserves regional security and stability”.
The air defense zone requires aircraft to provide their flight plan, declare their nationality and maintain two-way radio communication, or face “emergency defensive measures.”
The zone covers Tokyo-controlled islands—known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China—where ships and aircraft from the two countries already shadow each other.
Japan and Korea, however, said that they have defied China’s air defence zone, showing a united front to Beijing after US B-52 bombers did the same.
Chinese authorities are coming under internal pressure to toughen their response to incursions into the air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which it declared unilaterally last weekend.
The move triggered US and Japanese accusations of provocation as global concerns grew.
But Tokyo’s well-equipped coastguard said it had flown unopposed in the zone without complying with Beijing’s rules, and a report said the country’s air force had done the same.
“We’ve not changed our normal operation of patrolling the area where China declared its defence zone without reporting flight plans,” Yasutaka Nonaka, spokesman for Japan’s coastguard said. “We’ve not encountered Chinese jets.”
Tokyo had strongly demanded that China to revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace.
In a statement, the Japanese government urged China to exercise “self-restraint” amid its establishment of the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone”.
“The government of Japan has already made strong protests to China, conveying our deep concern about China’s establishment of such zone and obliging its own rules within the zone, and demanded China to revoke such measures,” the ministry said.
The ministry said its government is deeply concerned about China’s establishment of the zone, which overlaps on Tokyo’s own air defense zone, is a “profoundly dangerous [act] that unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, escalating the situation, and that may cause unintended consequences in the [region].”
Japan also noted that the “zone” set by the China seemingly describes the airspace over the Senkaku islands, is an “inherent part of the territory of Japan as if it were a part of China’s territorial airspace”.
“Japan cannot accept at all such description” it stated.
Japan added that it is now working closely with the United States and other “relevant countries” with regards to China’s latest move of asserting greater control over the East China Sea.
Japan, however, assured that will handle this issue issue in a “calm manner” against China’s attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo by coercive measures with determination to defend resolutely its territorial land, sea and airspace.
The South Korean military, meanwhile, said it encountered no resistance when one of its planes entered the area—which also overlaps Seoul’s ADIZ—unannounced on Tuesday.
A day earlier two giant US Stratofortress bombers had flown into the zone—an unmistakable message from Washington before a visit to the region by Vice-President Joe Biden.
China’s defense ministry issued a statement 11 hours after the US announcement saying the military “monitored the entire process” of the B-52 flights, without expressing regret or anger or threatening direct action.
The Global Times, which is close to China’s ruling Communist Party and often takes a nationalist tone, criticized the reaction as “too slow” in an editorial Thursday.
“We failed in offering a timely and ideal response,” it said, adding that Chinese officials needed to react to the “psychological battles” by the US.
The government-run China Daily added that Washington’s move risked increasing Tokyo’s “dangerous belligerence” and putting China and the US “on a collision course.
“The US’s bomber wandered around the edge of our ADIZ, I figure we should respond in kind. One good turn deserves another, right?” wrote one commentator on Sina Weibo, a social media service similar to Twitter.
Washington officials said on Wednesday that Biden plans to raise Washington’s concerns about the zone during his visit to Beijing next week.
The trip will allow him to “make the broader point that there’s an emerging pattern of behaviour by China that is unsettling to China’s own neighbours and raising questions about how China operates in international space”, an official said.
China’s relations with South Korea have recently improved but the zone covers a disputed South Korean-controlled rock—known as Ieodo in Seoul and Suyan in Beijing—that has long been a source of tensions between them. With Joyce Pangco Pañares and AFP