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China conducts air patrol in new defence zone
November 24, 2013, 5:25 am

China People's Liberation Army Air Force soldiers [Xinhua]

China People’s Liberation Army Air Force soldiers [Xinhua]

Beijing has announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone following which China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force conducted its first air patrol.

“The patrol is in line with international common practices, and the normal flight of international flights will not be affected,” Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force said.

Shen said that the Chinese armed forces “are capable of effective control over the zone, and will take measures to deal with air threats to protect the security of the country’s airspace”.

China has claimed that this is not a uncommon practice and that “since the 1950s, over 20 countries, including some big powers and China’s neighboring countries, have set up air defense identification zones”.

China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun had said earlier that, “It is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defense rights. It has no particular target.”

China’s Defense Ministry has also said Beijing will establish other air defense identification zones at an appropriate time after completing preparations.

A map of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) released by the Ministry includes a chain of islands also claimed by Japan.

Strong international reactions have followed Beijing’s announcement.

Junichi Ihara, head of Japan’s Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau has said the zone is “completely unacceptable”.

“Setting up such airspace unilaterally escalates the situations surrounding Senkaku islands and has danger of leading to an unexpected situation,” a statement from the Japanese foreign ministry said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued separate statements stating Washington was “deeply concerned” by the development.

“This unilateral action constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea,” Kerry said.

China and Japan are locked in a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan.

Japan purchased three of the islands from a private owner last September, announcing plans to “nationalise” them.

Top US officials have reaffirmed American backing for Japan in its dispute with China over the islands. A security treaty with Japan would allow the US to protect its ally in case of “foreign intervention”.

The US “pivot to Asia” strategy announced by the Obama administration has also attracted criticism from China which sees this as an attempt by Washington to contain the rise of Beijing.

Earlier last week, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said 60 per cent of the US fleet will be based in the Pacific by 2020.

Rice said on Thursday that US “military presence in the region is vital to deter threats and defend allies”.


With inputs from Agencies