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Fact Sheet: China's Air Defense Zone

Nov. 24, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By WENDELL MINNICK   |   Comments
JAPAN-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-DISPUTE
China on Nov. 23 established the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone that includes the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. (Jiji Press / Getty Images)
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TAIPEI — What appears to be a crisis in the making, China’s Ministry of National Defense (MOD) has established the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) effective as of 10 a.m. on Nov. 23.

The zone covers the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islets claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. The islets are under the administrative control of Japan. China has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles into the area of the islets and Japan has threatened to shoot them down.

China launched two aerial patrols, one Tu-154 and one Y-8, over the area the day of the announcement and Japan deployed two F-15 fighters to intercept.

China’s ADIZ overlaps Japan ADIZ by approximately half, causing concern the overlap could start a war.

The Chinese ADIZ also overlaps Taiwan (Republic of China/ROC). According to a Nov. 24 statement by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan will “adhere to the principles set forth in the East China Sea Peace Initiative [set forth by President Ma Ying-jeou on Aug 5), with the aim of resolving disputes peacefully, while taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of ROC airspace.” Ma’s five-point peace initiative urges all “parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on Nov. 23 urging China not to impose a “unilateral action” that “constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea.” Further, the US is “deeply concerned” about the announcement and “escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.”

Below is a collection of Chinese MOD press releases since the announcement:

MOD Press Release:

The Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:

First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.

Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:

1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.

3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.

4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties.

Third, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.

Fourth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

Fifth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the explanation of these rules.

Sixth, these rules will come into force at 10 a.m. Nov. 23, 2013.

MOD Press Release:

The zone is being established in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Defense (March 14, 1997), the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Civil Aviation (October 30, 1995) and the Basic Rules on Flight of the People’s Republic of China (July 27, 2001).

The zone includes the airspace within the area enclosed by China’s outer limit of the territorial sea and the following six points: 33º11’N and 121º47’E, 33º11’N and 125º00’E, 31º00’N and 128º20’E, 25º38’N and 125º00’E, 24º45’N and 123º00’E, 26º44’N and 120º58’E.

MOD Q&A

On Nov. 23, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun took questions from the media on the issue:

Following is the full text released by the MOD:

Q: Why does the Chinese government decide to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone? Is it related to the current situation in the region?

A: Air Defense Identification Zone is an area of air space established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace to timely identify, monitor, control and react to aircraft entering this zone with potential air threats. It allows early-warning time and provides air security.

Following the international practice, the Chinese government sets up the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone with the aim of safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order. This is a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense right. It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the freedom of over-flight in the related airspace.

Q: What is the basis for China to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?

A: The setup of East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone by the Chinese government is not only based on adequate legitimate reference, but also in accordance with current international practice. Since the 1950s, more than 20 countries including some major countries and China’s neighboring countries have successively established Air Defense Identification Zones. Chinese government’s relevant behavior is in line with the UN Charter and other international laws and customs. China’s domestic laws and regulations such as the Law of the PRC on National Defense, the Law of PRC on Civil Aviation and Basic Rules on Flight have also clearly stipulated on the maintenance of territorial land and air security and flight order.

Q: How is the coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone defined? Why is the boundary of the Zone only 130 km away from some country’ territory?

A: The coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone is defined by China’s need for air defense and maintaining flight order.

Actually the easternmost point of the Zone is so close to China that combat aircraft can soon reach China’s territorial airspace from the point. Therefore it is necessary for China to identify any aircraft from this point to assess its intentions and examine its identities so as to allow enough early-warning time for responsive measures in maintaining air security. In addition, some country established Air Defense Identification Zone as early as in 1969. The shortest distance from their zone to the Chinese mainland is also 130 km.

Q: What responding measures will the Chinese side take when foreign aircraft enter the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?

A: Announcement of the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the People’s Republic of China has made specific rules on the identification of aircraft in related airspace. In the face of air threats and unidentified flying objects coming from the sea, the Chinese side will identify, monitor, control and react depending on different situations. We hope that all parties concerned work actively with the Chinese side to jointly maintain flight safety.

What needs to be specified is that the Chinese side has always respected the freedom of over-flight in accordance with international law. The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone does not change the legal nature of related airspace. Normal flights by international airliners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone will not be affected in any way.

Q: Will China establish other Air Defense Identification Zones?

A: China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.

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