GROWING TENSIONS: CHINA SETS AIR DEFENSE ZON OVER JAPANESE ISLANDS

The Washington Times on November 23, 2013, published an AP report on the Chinese Defense Ministry issuing a map of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone that includes a chain of disputed islands also claimed by Japan, triggering a protest from Tokyo. Excerpts below:

Beijing also issued a set of rules for the zone, saying all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing. It said it would “identify, monitor, control and react” to any air threats or unidentified flying objects coming from the sea. Excerpts below:

In Tokyo, Junichi Ihara, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, protested by phone to China’s acting ambassador to Japan, Han Zhiqiang, saying the zone is “totally unacceptable,” according to a ministry statement.

Ihara also criticized China for “one-sidedly” setting up the zone and escalating bilateral tensions over the islands.

Both Beijing and Tokyo claim the islets, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu in Chinese. Protests erupted throughout China last year to denounce the Japanese government’s purchase of the islands from private ownership.

A rising economic and military power, China has become more assertive over its maritime claims. It has been in disputes with several neighboring countries over islands in the East and South China seas.

“China is playing a dangerous game here,” said Narushige Michishita, director of the security and international studies program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “It is certainly an escalatory action and might prolong and exacerbate the ongoing tension.”

South Korea and Taiwan also claim the barren, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

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