U.S. Refuses to Recognize China’s Air Defense Zone

A Chinese Su-27 Flanker fighter makes a fly by while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, visits with members of the Chinese Air Force at Anshan Airfield, China Mar. 24, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen (released)

The Pentagon has refused to acknowledge China’s proclaimed Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea after Beijing warned a U.S. B-1 bomber it had been flying there illegally this week.

Washington maintained it would continue its operations in the region. China claimed that area in 2013, a statement the U.S. and Japan has rejected since. On Thursday, Chinese government officials called on the U.S. to respect its self-proclaimed ADIZ.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces told CNN a B-1 bomber was flying near South Korea on Sunday before its pilots reported to Chinese air traffic controllers that they were undergoing routine operations in international airspace. The aircraft never deviated from its flight path.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no knowledge of the matter and referred questions to the Defense Ministry.

“But, generally speaking, I hope that in this region all countries’ actions consider the security concerns of relevant countries and be beneficial for mutual trust, peace and stability between countries,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

Commander Gary Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, said the U.S viewed China’s ADIZ over the East China Sea “a unilateral change to the status quo … that raises regional tensions and increases the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents.”

He added, “The United States will not acquiesce to unilateral acts of other States designed to restrict the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace, as reflected in international law. We do not accept, nor do we recognize, the East China Sea ADIZ declared by China.”

This is the latest in a series of war-game-like scenarios between China and the U.S., which in recent years has sent warships to defend freedom of navigation in waters claimed by China. The South China sea is virtually entirely claimed by Beijing. Her neighbors including Vietnam and the Philippines also claim parts. Several countries have shown signs of strengthening ties with the U.S. in what it perceives as Chinese militarization of territorial waters.  

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.