China sets up air defence zone over East China Sea

In a recent international development, China has announced that it is creating an Air Defence Identification Zone over an area that includes disputed Senkaku islands in the East-China Sea which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

Chinese defence ministry has also released protocol for aircraft identification that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military. As per the protocol, aircrafts are required to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from Chinese authorities.

The outline of the new zone covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkaku to Japan and Diaoyou to China.  As per Chinese defense ministry, China’s armed forces will exercise defensive emergency steps to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.

Why China took this stance?

The step from China follows a report that said Japan had sketched plans to strike down foreign drones that infringe its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

What is the dispute over Senkaku archipelago?

The Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyu Islands  in Mainland China or Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan, or the Pinnacle Islands) are a group of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea. The dispute is over the claim of Senkaku islands which are located in the East China Sea. The main parts of the islands which are currently controlled by Japan are also being claimed by the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan (Republic of China). These islands are called Diaoyu in China, and Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan.

Background of Senkaku Islands:
  • Senkaku Islands were controlled by Japan since 1895.
  • From a 1945 to 1972 administered by the United Stateses.
  • US handover of authority to Japan in 1971, disputed by China
  • China and Taiwan claim the islands as their possession and a seizure by Japan and want Japan to return as the rest of Imperial Japan’s conquests were returned in 1945.
Importance of Senkaku islands:
  • Senkaku Islands are believed to have abundance of natural resources and is also strategically important as it is close to international trade rout

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