The Washington Post on December 4, 2013, reported on China’s imposition of the contested air defense zone over the East China Sea has not halted U.S. military surveillance flights, including regular flights by EP-3 high-tech spying aircraft, defense officials said. Excerpts below:

The flights are carried out from bases in Japan and other parts of the region…

The aircraft gather valuable signals intelligence on Chinese military and civilian communications as far inland as Beijing and other large cities, and especially among eastern regional military groups.

China imposed the zone Nov. 23 without warning or consultation and is now demanding that all such flights be logged in advance with Chinese authorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the air zone is destabilizing the region because China failed to consult other nations before setting it up.

The Pentagon has said it does not recognize the zone that officials said is an attempt by Beijing to upset the fragile status quo in the region.

To make its point, when Pacific Command ordered the two B-52 bombers based at Guam to fly through the zone recently, it took the Chinese air force by surprise because no interceptors were sent up to follow the aircraft — a sign that the Chinese military is ill-prepared to enforce its new air zone.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, confirmed that U.S. military flights are continuing.
“I am glad to see that China’s blatantly aggressive actions aren’t affecting how the U.S. military conducts operations in the region, and I’m pleased to hear that U.S. military flight operations are continuing as planned,” Mr. McKeon said.


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