GENEVA: The United States (US) said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) it was “deeply concerned” and committed to defending Japan after China announced an air zone in the East China Sea that includes disputed islands.
In a move that US ally Japan branded as “very dangerous,” China said it was setting up the “air defense identification zone” over the islands administered by Tokyo to “guard against potential air threats.”
In similar statements, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the United States was “deeply concerned” about the moves by China, which also scrambled air force jets to carry out a patrol mission in the newly declared zone.
“This unilateral action constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea,” Kerry said.
“Escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident,” the top US diplomat said from Geneva, where he was taking part in talks on reaching an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
Kerry said that the United States has urged China to “exercise caution and restraint,” and warned Beijing against implementing its new zone.
“We urge China not to implement its threat to take action against aircraft that do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing,” Kerry said.
Hagel reiterated that the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands—which the Chinese claim and call the Diaoyu—fell under the US-Japan security treaty, meaning that Washington would defend its ally Tokyo if the area is attacked.