International

China Sends Warplanes To Air Defense Zone

A Chinese-produced J-10 fighter jet is displayed outside the offices of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China in Beijing. China's newly established air defense identification zone has caused much consternation in the region. i i

A Chinese-produced J-10 fighter jet is displayed outside the offices of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China in Beijing. China's newly established air defense identification zone has caused much consternation in the region. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese-produced J-10 fighter jet is displayed outside the offices of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China in Beijing. China's newly established air defense identification zone has caused much consternation in the region.

A Chinese-produced J-10 fighter jet is displayed outside the offices of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China in Beijing. China's newly established air defense identification zone has caused much consternation in the region.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

We've been reporting on China's new air defense zone and the criticism it is generating from its neighbors as well as the United States, who say they will ignore it. On Friday, China said it sent warplanes to the zone over the East China Sea, which overlaps with areas claimed by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn filed this report for our newscast unit:

"The official New China News Agency says that several fighter planes and an early warning aircraft conducted routine patrols in the zone on Thursday.

"The report did not say if it encountered any foreign aircraft. The U.S., Japan and South Korea have all sent military aircraft through the zone this week to show that they have no intention of respecting it. China's conservative Global Times tabloid conceded that foreign challenges to the zone have caught China's military looking flat-footed and passive.

"The paper indicated that China created the zone primarily as a response to Japan's recent nationalization of the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands."

As we told you last week in our Parallels blog, China's announcement of its air defense identification zone highlights its ambitions as a military power – ambitions that worry neighboring nations and the U.S.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Japanese counterpart this week about China's announcement, saying "it raises the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation."

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to raise the issue next week while on a visit to Beijing.

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