In what may be considered as the first real test of China’s newly declared “air defence identification zone”, the United States flew two unarmed B-52 bombers on Tuesday over the disputed islands of Senkakus, also called the Diaoyus by China. There has been no response from China as of yet, but tensions are expected to rise even more with this move by Japan’s closest ally.
US Colonel Steve Warren at the Pentagon confirmed that they had “conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus,” but insists that they followed their normal procedures, which includes not reporting their flight plans, not radioing the said plans beforehand, and not registering their frequencies. The planes took off from Guam on Monday as part of their regular military exercise and they both returned there after their fly by. After China’s announcement on Saturday implementing the air zone, the United States said they will not be abiding by it, with the White House calling it “unnecessarily inflammatory.”
Japan already filed a strong protest against this with the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, saying this move was an “escalation” by China over their territorial dispute. They have called on their airlines to stop filing their flight plans with China and the country’s two biggest airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have agreed to the request. The Chinese Defense Ministry on Saturday said that aircraft flying over their “air defence identification zone” need to file their flight plan, “maintain two-way radio communications”, and “respond in a timely and accurate manner” if they request for identification. The zone includes areas that are still in dispute.
[ via BBC ]