China contemplates a southern ADIZ

It’s not official yet, but international observers are echoing Japanese news reports that China is giving serious consideration to creating a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that would cover a massive chunck of the South China Sea.

The word filtering across the region comes only months after China imposed an Air Defense Identification Zone above the East China Sea.  That ADIZ has Japan, Korea and the United States concerned, as the zone blankets not only international waters, but disputed areas being claimed by other countries, including Japan.  In Japan’s case, the Senkaku Islands in southwest Okinawa Prefecture are claimed and administered by Japan, but also challenged by China as being its sovereign territory.

China’s move to add another ADIZ has officials in at least a half-dozen countries worried, or at least concerned.  They say the new Chinese moves are overly aggressive and threatening.  The Parcel islands would be in the new ADIZ, as Beijing is claiming virtually all of the South China Sea as being its territory, even though much of the territory is far from China’s coastline.

Beijing says it is still contemplating its next move, and has criticized Japan for drawing attention to its potential plans, saying the announcements are stirring unneeded unrest.  Japan, joined by the U.S. and South Korea, launched strong protests in November when China imposed its ADIZ over the East China Sea.  As part of that ADIZ, China has demanded all aircraft or vessels transiting or flying over the zone comply with Chinese rules, which include providing flight plans and maintaining two-way communication with Chinese authorities.  Failure to do so, China says, could result in those aircraft being pursued by Chinese fighter jets as part of “emergency defense measures.”

Shortly after China imposed its East China Sea ADIZ in November, Hainan Province in southern China imposed its own rules that demand foreign fishing vessels first obtain permission before entering waters in the region.  John Kerry, America’s Secretary of State, issued warnings in December to China not to impose the ADIZ in the East or South China Seas, calling the waters essential to international regional trade.