CHINA SENDS AIRCRAFT TO NEW DEFENSE ZONE

The Wall Street Journal on November 28, 2013, reported that China responded to growing international defiance of its new air-defense zone in the East China Sea both by sending advanced fighter jets to the area and trying to play down any threat of military retaliation—underlining the confusion and escalated tension over territorial disputes in East Asia. Excerpts below:

The announcement by China’s air force that it had sent fighters and an early warning aircraft to patrol the zone came just a few hours after Japan and South Korea, following the U.S. lead, said their military aircraft had flown into the zone without notifying Beijing over the past few days, and would continue to do so.

The U.S. challenged the zone’s credibility by sending in two B-52 bombers without informing Chinese authorities, who had warned when they declared the zone on Saturday that such incursions would be met with unspecified “defensive emergency measures.”

China’s apparent easing of its original warning suggests its fighters will monitor and escort rather than repel U.S., Japanese and South Korean aircraft that violate the rules of the zone, which covers islands claimed by Beijing and Tokyo, said Chinese and foreign analysts.

But to maintain its credibility internationally and domestically, it is likely to increase such escorts, a move that in such a tense political climate greatly increases the risk of an aerial incident that could spiral into a military clash, analysts and diplomats said.

Col. Yang Yujun, a defense ministry spokesman, told a monthly news conference that the ADIZ wasn’t a no-fly zone or an extension of China’s airspace.

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