China Declares Air Defense Zone around Disputed Islands

As tensions between China and Japan continue to ratchet up over the Senkaku/Diayou Islands in the East China Sea, China has announced the creation of an air defense identification zone encompassing the area around the disputed islands. Japan and the United States wasted no time in warning that China is needlessly destabilizing the status quo. This move “increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a release on Nov. 23, the same day that China announced the zone. He said the United States was communicating its concerns with China diplomatically and through military channels. He also said the Chinese action will not “in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region,” and he reaffirmed the US longstanding policy that its mutual defense treaty with Japan “applies to the Senkaku Islands.” The Chinese defense ministry said all aircraft entering the zone must abide by stringent identification rules or its armed forces would “adopt defensive emergency measures” in response. China also announced on Nov. 23 that the Chinese air force had begun air defense patrols in the zone.