China’s establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea could lead to miscalculations that could further escalate the tension among countries in the area, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said on Monday.
Goldberg said the United States (US) has expressed its concern about this step taken by the Chinese government because it only worsened the already tense situation in the region.
“We do not believe that this is a move intended to build confidence or, in any other way, improve the situation, but instead will create tension and the possibility of miscalculations,” he told reporters.
“And that’s never good, especially in an area where we know that, whether it’s over the Senkakus, or here in the Southeast Asia, and the South China Sea, there are difficult issues. So I start from that premise,” he added.
China’s unilateral announcement establishing ADIZ on November 23 also angered Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Beijing demands that all aircraft submit flight plans when entering the zone, which covers islands disputed with Tokyo and also claimed by Taipei.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are claiming in whole or in part resource-rich areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Asked if the US should be alarmed with China’s move, Goldberg said they “believe in free navigation whether it’s in the air or on sea.”
“That’s where the United States stands, and we will continue to press those beliefs, and we will support the peaceful and legal, diplomatic efforts underway to resolve tensions,” he said.
While the US was outraged by China’s move, Washington urged commercial aircraft pilots to submit their flight plans.
“We can’t take chances when it comes to commercial aircraft, so we have recommended to our commercial airlines that they give such notification,” Goldberg said.
The Pentagon has indicated that American military forces would continue normal operations, despite China scrambling fighter jets to monitor US and Japanese aircraft in the zone.
Goldberg said the US government did not take sides in the maritime dispute but it strongly supports “the countries of this region coming together for a Code of Conduct, which will help set out the rules of the road or the rules of the sea, and will be a way for tensions to decrease.”
“The same is true of any legal recourse that the Philippine government has taken,” he said.
Taiwan on Monday said its military planes have made about 30 flights into a part of China’s ADIZ which overlaps a similar Taiwanese zone.
Defense Minister Yen Ming, answering questions in parliament Monday, said the Taiwanese military planes had made “around 30 flights” into the overlapping area in the past week or so.
Yen said Taiwan’s air force would scramble planes should Chinese aircraft enter the overlapping area, but none had done so as yet.
Japan and South Korea both said last week they had flown into the Chinese air zone without notifying Beijing, after US B-52 bombers did likewise.
Taiwan’s parliament has passed a bi-partisan resolution urging the government not to present flight plans to Beijing even though the island’s Civil Aeronautics Administration agreed last week to do so.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he would discuss China’s expansion of its air defense zone with US Vice President Joe Biden in Tokyo to coordinate their stance after apparently contradictory responses.
Tokyo has stopped Japanese airlines from submitting flight plans to Beijing.
South Korea has told the country’s airlines not to submit flight plans to China, the South’s Yonhap news agency said Sunday, citing a government source.
Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera cited press reports that China might “make similar moves in the South China Sea”, where Beijing is involved in territorial disputes with several countries.
“I think a sense of tension will run through countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” he said. “The international community as a whole should not condone such unilateral approach.”
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez earlier said that China’s ADIZ threatens the freedom of flight and the national security of affected nations.
“China’s East Asia Sea ADIZ transforms the entire air zone into its domestic airspace, infringes on the right to freedom of flight in international airspace and compromises the safety of civil aviation and national security of affected states,” the state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Hernandez as saying in a report.