China has claimed the right to take military action against aircraft that enter a newly declared “air defence identification zone” that covers an area contested by Japan, in a move that is likely to escalate an already tense territorial dispute in the East China Sea.
The Defence Ministry released a map and geographical co-ordinates for the zone, which covered areas very close to Japan and South Korea, and included the skies over islands that China claims as Diaoyu, and the Japanese claim as Senkaku.
The ministry said aircraft entering the airspace must report a flight plan and respond to identification inquiries.
“China’s armed forces will take defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not co-operate in identification or refuse to follow orders,” Defence spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun said, adding it was not “directed at any specific country or target”.
“The objective is to defend national sovereignty and territorial and air security, as well as to maintain orderly aviation,” he said.
Japan swiftly lodged a strong protest over what it called a “dangerous escalation” of the dispute.
…China’s announcement came just days after Chinese Premier Xi Jinping announced plans to establish a state security committee to oversee both international and domestic security policies.
“One thing we do know about Mr Xi is that he’s in charge and he’s tough,” said Richard Rigby, the executive director of the Australia National University’s China Institute.
Full article: China threatens military action over East China Sea islands (The Sydney Morning Herald)