On Nov. 23, 2013, China announced that it had set up an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the Japan-held Senkaku Islands, which Chinese call Diaoyutai and over which China also claims ownership.
On Feb. 2, 2014, in a Foreign Ministry press release, Beijing dismissed Japanese media reports that said China was preparing to establish a South China Sea ADIZ, but seemed to leave open the possibility that China might do so in the future.
Beijing claims ownership of islands in the South China Sea, which is contested by a number of countries, including Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, and Taiwan.
However, 19 days later on Feb. 21, 2014, a senior researcher and officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that establishing an ADIZ in the South China Sea is essential to China’s national interest.
Reuters reports that Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the PLA Navy’s Military Academy and frequent media commentator, said “The establishment of another ADIZ over the South China Sea is necessary for China’s long-term national interest.”
Li’s remark came in the context of a discussion about remarks made by U.S. Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence and information operations at the US Pacific Fleet. As The Diplomat reported, at a recent U.S. Naval Institute conference Capt. Fanell said that the PLA had held a drill to practice defeating Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces in the East China Sea as a prelude to seizing the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Fanell also predicted that China would establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea by 2015 at the latest.
Col. Li characterized Fanell’s remark as America’s attempt to deter China from establishing a South China Sea ADIZ.
The Pentagon quickly distanced itself from Fanell’s remarks, with Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby saying that “those were his views to express. What I can tell you about what Secretary Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world. We continue to want to improve our bilateral military relations with China.” Blah. Blah. Blah.
- “China threatens war in South and East China Seas,” Jan. 13, 2014.
- “China’s ADIZ is a strategic move to control First Island Chain,” Dec. 25, 2013.