• Goldberg: China’s new air-defense zone could create tension

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    China’s establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea could create confusion and escalate tension among countries in the area, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said Monday.
    Speaking to reporters, Goldberg said the US has expressed its concern about this step taken by the Chinese government to declare an ADIZ.
    “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,” Goldberg said.
    “And that’s never good, especially in an area where we know that, whether it’s in—over the Senkakus, or here in the Southeast Asia, and the South China Sea are difficult issues. So I start from that premise,” he said.
    Goldberg was referring to the zone that includes disputed islands claimed by China, which knows them as the Diaoyus, but controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus.
    Several islands under a territorial dispute between China and Japan were also inside the zone.
    The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also overlapping claims to parts of the strategically vital and potentially resource-rich body of water.
    Asked if they 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 noted
    When it comes to commercial and military aircraft, Goldberg explained that the US government takes a different position.
    “Even if we don’t believe ADIZ is warranted, the United States does not impose an ADIZ on aircraft that are not entering US airspace,” he said.
    “But at the same time, we can’t with commercial aircraft, take chances, as I mentioned, of miscalculation, so we have recommended to our commercial airlines that they give such notification,” he added
    Goldberg said that the US government did not take sides in the dispute in the West Philippine Sea since it does not have territorial claims in the area.
    But he said the US strongly supports the countries in the 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,” Goldberg pointed out.
    On November 23, China Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun announced the establishment of the air defense zone to “guard against potential air threats.”
    “The Chinese government has followed common international practices in the establishment of the zone, with aims of protecting its state sovereignty and territorial and airspace security, and maintaining flying orders. It is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defense rights,” he said.
    The setting up of the ADIZ was condemned in Washington, Tokyo, South Korea and elsewhere.
    The Philippines also joined other countries in rejecting the air defense zone.
    Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez earlier said China’s ADIZ threatens the freedom of flight and the national security of affected nations.
    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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