Ahead of a trip to the East Asia region by United States Vice President Joe Biden, Washington has called on China to scrap its newly declared air defense identification zone on Monday, warning that Beijing is risking a potentially dangerous confrontation with Japan and its allies – particularly the U.S. This explicit request is for China to “rescind” threats against unannounced aircraft passing over a territory that covers almost all of the East China Sea – including territory that is disputed by both countries but is currently controlled by Japan. Biden had just landed in Tokyo for a six-day trip that includes destinations to Japan, China and South Korea when the announcement was made.
“The fact that China’s announcement has caused confusion and increased the risk of accidents only further underscores the validity of concerns and the need for China to rescind the procedures,” said Jen Psaki, the chief spokesperson for the State Department. The Chinese defense ministry had ordered on the weekend that all aircraft flying through the zone will need to notify Chinese authorities in advance, warning that it would “identify, monitor, control and react to” any air threats or unidentified flights coming through the area. “That kind of coercive, strong language is worrisome, and we hope it is not tested,” said a senior Japanese official, echoing growing concern about the possible risk of an accidental confrontation that spirals out of control. The official said that if aircraft would be scrambled simultaneously by China and the US, and possibly Japan too, there will be a lot of risk involved. “Mishaps and miscalculations can happen, particularly if aircraft are scrambled to intercept an aircraft. You never know how these situations can unfold.”
Psaki stressed that the U.S. decision to have commercial flights abide by China’s rules “in no way indicates” the U.S.’s acceptance of China’s declaration. She said China had made the declaration “in an uncoordinated fashion” which was “inconsistent with standard practice”, adding the U.S. did not believe the declaration to be legitimate. Her remarks were echoed by the White House. “This is about the safety and security of passengers and is not, in any way, indication of a change in our position,” said spokesman Jay Carney. “This appears to be a provocative attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea and thus raises tensions and increases the risk of inadvertent confrontation.”
[via The Guardian]
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