Shinzo Abe: China new air defence zone move 'dangerous'


The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo and Martin Patience in Beijing assess how the dispute is viewed

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has described China's move to create a new "air defence identification zone" over disputed waters as "dangerous".

China's action had "no validity whatsoever on Japan", Mr Abe added.

China has voiced anger at Japanese and US objections to the new air zone, and lodged complaints with their embassies.

The zone covers disputed islands that are claimed and controlled by Japan. China says aircraft entering the zone must obey its rules.

Mr Abe told parliament on Monday that the zone "can invite an unexpected occurrence and it is a very dangerous thing as well".

"We demand China revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace,'' he added.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called the move a "destabilising attempt to alter the status quo in the region".

"This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations," Mr Hagel said in a statement.

"This announcement by the People's Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region," he added.

Map of east china sea and declared air defence zone

Japan described China's move as an "escalation" on Saturday, after China announced the new zone.

On Sunday, Yang Yujun, a spokesman for China's Ministry of National Defence, said Japan's reaction was "absolutely groundless and unacceptable".

"We strongly require the Japanese side to stop all moves that undermine China's territorial sovereignty as well as irresponsible remarks that misguide international opinions and create regional tensions," Mr Yang said.

Air defence identification zones

  • Zones do not necessarily overlap with airspace, sovereign territory or territorial claims
  • States define zones, and stipulate rules that aircraft must obey; legal basis is unclear
  • During WW2, US established an air perimeter and now maintains four separate zones - Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and a contiguous mainland zone
  • UK, Norway, Japan and Canada also maintain zones


He also demanded that the US "earnestly respect China's national security [and] stop making irresponsible remarks for China's setup of the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone".

South Korea said it found it "regretful" that China's new zone partly overlapped with its own military air zone, and covered Ieodo, a submerged rock claimed by Seoul.

"I'd like to say once again that we have unchanging territorial control over Ieodo," Kim Min-seok, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman, said on Monday.

Taiwan also claims the Japan-controlled disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Taiwan said that it would "defend its sovereignty over the archipelago."

China said the air defence zone came into effect from 10:00 local time (02:00GMT) on Saturday.

Aircraft in the zone must report a flight plan, "maintain two-way radio communications" and "respond in a timely and accurate manner" to identification inquiries, China's Defence Ministry said.

Aircraft that did not follow such rules would be subject to "defensive emergency measures", the ministry added.

'Act of war'

The disputed islands in the East China Sea have been a source of tension between China and Japan for decades.

Disputed islands

  • The archipelago consists of five uninhabited islands and three reefs
  • Japan, China and Taiwan claim them; they are controlled by Japan and form part of Okinawa prefecture
  • Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara owned three of the islands but sold them to the Japanese state in September 2012
  • The islands were also the focus of a major diplomatic row between Japan and China in 2010

In 2012, the Japanese government bought three of the islands from their private Japanese owner, sparking mass protests in Chinese cities.

Since then, Chinese ships have repeatedly sailed in and out of what Japan says are its territorial waters.

In January, Japan said a Chinese frigate put a radar lock on a Japanese navy ship near the islands. China insists its ship was only using ordinary surveillance radar.

In September, Japan said it would shoot down unmanned aircraft in Japanese airspace after an unmanned Chinese drone flew close to the disputed islands.

China said that any attempt by Japan to shoot down Chinese aircraft would constitute "an act of war".

Since China's President Xi Jinping took power a year ago, Beijing has become more assertive in its territorial claims in the region, leading to rising tensions with many of its neighbours, the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing reports.

The US has warned that a small incident or miscalculation in the East China Sea could escalate rapidly into a far wider and more serious crisis.

China is also engaged in territorial disputes with several South East Asian countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines. The disputes centre around ocean areas and two island chains in the South China Sea.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    520.. Just meat &other food boiled so gray you can't tell one from another.Toad in the hole?
    523..Vietnam looks to US to defend it militarily from China..ironies of history
    Re: 'English cuisine= bad' shows knowledge of it, possibly no actual tasting, or only poor examples.
    You're missing out! And proper Toad-in-t'-hole = great :-)

    Re: Irony of Viet defence by US: Agreed

  • Comment number 530.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    Is that people can't see things that are in BLUE?
    Notice that the Japanese's ADIZ almost include the mainland of China?

    Isn't it just an excellent demonstration of double standard while allowing the Japanese to do sth but not the Chinese to do the same?

    I am enlightened that if it's not double standard!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    Abe is saying the Chinese ADIZ is dangerous as if his own ADIZ isn't. Chinese created their ADIZ in respond to the Japanese's ADIZ expansion. Both really need to sit down and talk before the whole thing get out of hand

    Well done BBC for mentioning the Japanese's ADIZ, most western news didn't

    Also would someone tell the Korean and Chinese, a submerged rock is a navigational hazard not an island

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    β€œA history of false flag attacks used to manipulate the minds of the people! β€œIn individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche


Comments 5 of 531


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