China Imposes Restrictions on Air Space Over Senkaku Islands
Image Credit: DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

China Imposes Restrictions on Air Space Over Senkaku Islands


In a move certain to escalate tensions with Japan, China’s Ministry of Defense on Saturday issued what amounts to a heavily regulated air zone over much of the East China Sea, including the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

In a statement today China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced the creation of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which went into effect 10 AM Saturday Morning local time. A second statement by the MND laid out the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

The latter statement outlines six rules aircraft flying in the zone must follow, starting with rule number one, which reads “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.”

The second rule contains four ways aircraft must identify themselves and keep in communication with Chinese authorities while flying over the zone. These include clearly marking the nationality of the aircraft and maintaining two way communications with China’s Foreign Ministry and Civil Aviation Administrative.

The third rule states that “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.” The next rule identifies China’s Ministry of National Defense as the administrative organ. The statement also empowers the MND to explain the rules.

Many of the identification procedures are similar to the ones used by Canada and the U.S. in the North American ADIZ that they jointly administer. The rules for that ADIZ appear to be a lot more precise, however.

Notably, rule number three in the new East China Sea ADIZ warns “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”

While the language is vague, it appears to be consistent with how other countries handle potential violations to their ADIZ.  For instance, in two separate incidents over the summer, Russian strategic bombers entered into America’s 200 km ADIZs around the Pacific and Alaska. They were met by U.S. interceptor jets though the Pentagon refused to specify which type of aircraft the U.S. had used.

The first statement announcing the East China Sea ADIZ’s creation laid out the precise coordinates of the zone, and was accompanied by a hard to see map outlining it.

The creation of the ADIZ is in line with a growing aerial trend in the East China Sea dispute between China and Japan. In a piece on The Diplomat earlier this month, Flashpoints contributor Mira-Rapp Hooper noted, “In recent weeks, the standoff over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has taken to the air.” She further warned that there are a number of reasons to think that “these aerial activities… may present new challenges in the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.”

The possibility of China setting up an ADIZ in the East China Sea first leaked earlier this month when the Japanese new service Kyodo obtained an internal People’s Liberation Army document discussing the ADIZ. Kyodo noted at the time that China’s ADIZ would almost certainly overlap with Japan’s own ADIZ in the East China Sea. It also stated, “Such zones are set up by countries based on domestic law. There are no international rules concerning their establishment.” And therein lies the danger of the new ADIZ.

After announcing the ADIZ’s creation, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense fielded questions about what it entailed. According to a transcript released by Chinese state media, the spokesperson explained that an “Air Defense Identification Zone is an area of air space established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace to timely identify, monitor, control and react to aircraft entering this zone with potential air threats.”  The U.S. Department of Defense defines ADIZs as “Airspace of defined dimensions within which the ready identification, location, and control of airborne vehicles are required.”

The spokesperson also stated that the East China Sea ADIZ had been set up, “with the aim of safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order. This is a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense right. It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the freedom of over-flight in the related airspace.”

The MND spokesperson went on to defend the ANIZ’s creation as consistent with China’s sovereignty, international law, and precedent. In particularly, he noted that 20 nations, including some of China’s neighbors, have set up such ANIZs over the years.

When asked why the ANIZ stretched “only” 130 km from China’s territory, the spokesperson responded, “Some country established Air Defense Identification Zone as early as in 1969. The shortest distance from their zone to the Chinese mainland is also 130 km.” That was almost certainly a reference of Japan, which took control of its ANIZ from the U.S. military in 1969.

Later the same spokesperson clarified that China will continue to respect over-flight rights in accordance with international law.

“The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone does not change the legal nature of related airspace,” the MND spokesperson said. “Normal flights by international air liners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone will not be affected in any way.”

He concluded the press conference by saying that China would create additional ADIZs “at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.”

The Ministry of National Defense in Taiwan, which also claims the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, issued a statement expressing regret at China’s move. It also vowed to protect Taiwan’s national security and sovereignty. Notably, the ADIZ’s boundaries did not include Taiwan proper. At the time of this writing, Japan does not appear to have issued an official response yet.

In practical terms, the creation of the ADIZ is in line with China’s goal of challenging Japan’s administration of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Just over a month after Japan nationalized some of the Senkaku Islands in September 2012, M Taylor Fravel explained China’s strategy towards its disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.

“The most striking feature of China’s behavior in its maritime disputes this year has been efforts to redefine the status quo,” Fravel wrote at the time.  “In its disputes with the Philippines and Japan, China has used the presence of its civilian maritime law enforcement agencies to create new facts on the water to strengthen China’s sovereignty claims.”

Now China is trying to create new facts in the air.

December 3, 2013 at 21:09

China didn’t impose restrictions. It’s only an identification procedure similar to, if not the same as, ADIZs created by the US, the global mafia boss and murderous bully, and its lapdog clients like Japan and South Korea.

November 30, 2013 at 14:11

“Perception is reality”..the historical grievance of the chinese is real for them. It just can not be argued away by their antagonists. Real assured, the chinamen will act on it now, or later. The so-called “international community” should celebrate instead because the Chinese is still acting within an international legal framework.

November 29, 2013 at 11:50

Whoever challenge the rule of world war II is calling world war III.

November 29, 2013 at 11:48

Just a few hard facts. No arguments possible to deny these facts.

1. Japan had ADIZ since 1969, the area of Japan’s ADIZ is 5 times the Japan’s domestic territory area. While China’s ADIZ area is a fraction (<10%) of their territory area.
2. US developed the ADIZ back in 1950.
3. There are 20+ countries had their own ADIZ in this world, including Korea, Japan, RC (republic of China, Taiwan area), Phillipine, etc.
4. China publicly acknowledged they may consider withdrawal ADIZ, conditionally on Japan withdrawal their 1st, after 44 years of Japan’s withdrawal.
5. When Korea, Japan, RC (republic of China, Taiwan area), Phillipine set up their own ADIZ, none of these countries consulted China.

November 30, 2013 at 12:20

Those countries that already have ADIZ and now protesting against China are hypocrites. If they now want China to respect their ADIZ, they better start respecting China’s ADIZ.

November 29, 2013 at 11:47

Take an east asia history 101, then you will know Potsdam Declaration and Cairo Communiqué said:

“Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.” As had been announced in the Cairo Declaration in 1943.

Who is trying to change the rule set by world war II? Did the above wording clear enough?

Only another world war can change the rule of world war II, just like a decision of a meeting can’t be changed by a few persons without calling another meeting. Whoever challenge the rule of world war II is an aggressor in this world.

November 29, 2013 at 22:48

“the minor islands that we shall determine”.

But “we” determined that Pescadores shall be returned and “we” did not mention any other. And “we” refused to discuss Senkaku and “we” signed the Peace Treaties (first in 1952 and then in 1978 later).
So “we” made miscalculations and “we” should shut up.

November 28, 2013 at 12:44

I’m not sure I understand the point of this article. Is it saying what China is doing is unusual? (“China is trying to create new facts in the air”) If both Japan and the US have set up arbitrary ADIZs, why is what China doing any different from the norm? What gives the US the right to establish such zones, and not China?

November 29, 2013 at 22:51

The US (and Japan) established ADIZ during the Cold War. China claim it is rising peacefully, why does it need a Cold War style military ADIZ?

December 1, 2013 at 06:11

Rising peacefully doesn’t mean submitting peacefully…Where’s the rise? And China is not even mentioning rise, but development now…Peaceful is not about being just surrendering..That, is the most peaceful way….Just surrender :)

Santi Kampilan
November 28, 2013 at 02:16

As a result of China’s one-child policy it has so far killed an estimated 400 million babies. Talking about mass murder……that’s the mother of all!!!!!!!

December 1, 2013 at 06:13

The fact now is, China is the mother of more than 1.3 billion people, more than the combined population of the US, Canada, Australia and Europe in their entirety….

November 27, 2013 at 20:07

@ HLD – nice speech but problem is, is that what extremely popular right-wing Japanese Prime Ministers like Abe or Koizumi or the right-wing militarists think, repeatedly said and did?! ……………………………………………………..FACT is, they until today, still say the allied forces WRONGFULLY accused the Japanese in WW2….What do you expect us to think? For me, it’s not about apology but these things happening now in Japan are much, much worse and simply, ‘frightening’, to say the least………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………But, China today of course, will not be as frightened as was in during WW2………………………………………………………………………………………………………………If you demand such blatant territorial concessions from China…Look at the map of Han dynasty (more than 2,000 yrs ago) and Taiwan at that time………….If you dare to make such groundless demands as an excuse, go ask your sugar daddy to give up the entire North America and Australia perhaps?

November 28, 2013 at 05:54

I do not give a damn about how the revisionnists in Japan behave, as long as the government is democratic and comply with international law and human rights inforced by UN chart. I would do the same with a democratic China whose leaders would praise Mao’s genocidal policy. Because it would just be a matter of historical debate agitated for political benefits with no consequence on the democratic form of the government.

I personnally do not care about “Chinese apologies” for anything done on their own people. It’s an historical and moral problem up to chinese society which, currently, has no right to talk about it anyway.

Now, if you’re explaining us that China and her massive military build up threat a country 10 times less populated which even does not possess a nuclear arsenal, then let me tell you you’re fooling yourself if you think many people will buy this story.

The fact is China has conflicts with many of her neighbours, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, etc. Not only Japan. But Chinese national-communist clique ruling the current regime is hoping that an anti-japanese sentiment will allow her to create a precedent on the matter of territorial disputes in her favour among the asian nations.

Korean reaction, and soon to come other asian countries ones, will prove that this does not happen.

The fact is China want to expand in the Pacific, and take controll of her neighbours, first aim being Taiwan. The current neo-fascist clique ruling China will more and more clearly appear for what it is : an imperialist power. And as for Japan back in 1941, a red line will be crossed with the heavy price at the end for agressors.

November 27, 2013 at 19:51

Why not say Communist China created more than ‘mass murdered’ while the others mass murdered more than ‘created’, so in fact China got a net creation than destruction?……………………………………………………………………………………………….Or is that ‘non-scientific’ by your standard? Chinese history has always been filled with brutal in-fighting and that’s perhaps why they are still not very strong still. But, if you said Mao was so bad, then you might wanna include as well the genocides committed by the European settlers on the Native Americans?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….By this standard, almost every man in history would be ‘evil’ :)

November 28, 2013 at 05:58

Typical revisionnist rhetoric “look somewhere else please”. Well nope, we won’t. Chinese regime is criminal, Mao being the worst in history. And i am confident chinese democrats will manage to end this tyranny in a not so distant future. A quite good reason for the current clique in power in Beijing to use national pride to “change the topic”…

February 4, 2014 at 04:27

Surprised of the depth (or lack thereof) of the discussions on the diplomat…If people who are remotely better informed than the general public are acting like that, there really isn’t much to hope for the rest of them… So erm, those who say Mao is the worst leader, and that Jap gov denying WWII massacre is okay, maybe try live in China during sino-jap war? Maybe try live in China just a few hundred years before you learnt China existed? Oh wait, actually try live in Europe at that time too, get a different perspective you know. And then consider this before talking: you are addressing the issues (historical, political, emotional) of a people who has far longer memory than you do. And things look different from their eyes. It’s not just Mao. And no civilized nation has achieved absolute democracy yet.

November 27, 2013 at 19:45

Funny that the evil mass murderers in Communist China turned the country into one with the largest population in the world?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Wonder how many more the others mass murdered their own kind to push up the Chinese ‘body count’ to top the world in population count? :)

November 27, 2013 at 19:38

Well, how did the guys here came to know that about Mao too? Deaths during a civil war…come on, stop being a kid! ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….China is talking about Nanking rape and stuff…Now, how’s that the same? China’s ultimate goal is for the rise of China, so is that Japan’s ultimate goal in invading China? Mao’s own son died too in the Korean war, by the way!………………………………………………………………………………………………………..You can say all you like, but this kind of logic doesn’t hold any ground and you could say much worse things about Qin Shihuang, but fact was, he united China and created history!……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Well, I see no point in this thing about Mao. He did terrible things, yes. I did not deny, but I certainly dispute your assertion that he was an ‘evil’ guy. Lets see if your version or mine will last longer :)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………I can bet Mao will NEVER go down in history as Hitler or the Japanese militarists. It makes me laugh at this comparison……………………………………………………………………………………………………….As I said, wait perhaps for 50 more years when things finally settle down. If I could invest in a share (between yours and mine), I would certainly invest in my version :)

November 27, 2013 at 08:13

Senkaku is a japanese territory and there is no dispute about it. China created the whole thing, in the same fashion as she did with all her neighbours. Now, Japan is ruling the island, US gave back the territories to JPN, not Korea or Taiwan. Now, of course, US recognize the current administration. Logic is clear : if China want this rock, she will have to take it by force. Which means attacking Japan which would oblige US to act. If one take 5 secs to watch a map, he will notice that China is surrounded by ennemies, not only Japan. As Germany in 1939.

Not a chance to win any agression.

November 27, 2013 at 05:20

It is funny to make comments before looking up the west pacific maps and then judge who is right.

The so called communist
November 27, 2013 at 01:26

You don’t know China until it’s too late!

November 27, 2013 at 00:44

Look at all the ignorant comments from the 50 cents army members.

Hey bully china, if you are so tough and strong, how about creat new restriction with Russia, eh? How about take back all the land that Russia took from you since 1850s? How about do something when Russian Navy shot at your fishermen?

What is the matter? More pathetic hot air and ignorant statements from china and chinese. The whole world is laughing at you guys, must be because of all the dirty pollution from the air, water, and land. So nasty and yucky.

November 27, 2013 at 19:24

Lets see who laughs last :)

November 26, 2013 at 17:52

Actually, Japan can never be appeased, only emboldened, from the Taiwanese experience of being so friendly towards Japan…In the end, Japan merely take Taiwan as a softie to be pushed around, only to agree to its ‘fishing rights’ in disputed waters when things turned really sour with China and Korea…
I think that actually China is merely looking to balance things only…They will not enforced the rule with Japan and the US…It just meant that my planes will ignore your ADIZ from now and we will be doing tit-for-tat moves…

In the first place, China never expected Japan and the US to abide by Chinese rules. This is like a seller quoting a higher price in anticipation of a bargain by the potential buyer…
But, tit-for-tat moves will be highly risky in the the planes both tail and ‘square off’ with each other….I guess China will still be more polite towards the US than Japan…
As for South Korea, I think both sides will want to reach a compromise in this and settle it amicably…perhaps, divide the overlapping area into 2 and each take its own side…

China is flexible with principles, as long as u don’t be like Japan inching forward endlessly, China wants peace more than anyone, I guess…

November 26, 2013 at 18:59

You guess and think too much but you got it all wrong. If China is so peaceful, let go Tibet, Uyrgur, and Taiwan. After that, Japan and China will go hand to hand to the ICJ at Hague and talk. No need to arrest anyone and send them to the political prisons, \no need to send armored fishing boats, no need to intimidate with claiming the overlapping ADIZ. Resolving the issue peacefully at the international court is all we need.

November 27, 2013 at 01:59

Why not China able to declare its air zone and JP got its own already. It is fair for both have its air zone. Japan is even worse than China particular JP is under that extreme right wing Abe leadership.
It is Japan fault starting this by purchasing the islands, then conduct military exercises, deploy air missiles…. provoking China. If JP is so worried, return the administration power of the islands to US and ask US to deal with China.

commie propaganda
November 26, 2013 at 23:03

China wants peace? Oh my God!

November 26, 2013 at 17:32

Several months ago, I made this comment.

For many years China has offer to sit down with Japan to resolve all the territorial disputes. The Chinese believed if they could resolved their border dispute with Russia they could do the same with Japan. Japan not only refuses, but nationalized the territories in dispute in 2012.

At that time, I noted that the longer Japan refuses to negotiate with China, the stronger China will be. By the time China is capable of exerting its power, Japan will have nothing much to put on the table. It looks like the time has came.

November 26, 2013 at 13:38

We speak about a chinese claim on an island handed to Japan by USA. Not about “Japanese war crimes” some are whining about, 70 years after the facts. Asking for apologies to people who were even born at the time is ridiculous : one is only responsible for his acts, not his grandfather’s ones. Democracy is not about tribal vendettas.

BTW, speaking about history, the same chinese government so concerned about japanese crimes is very silent about Mao’s one, whose bodycount is far more worse. His face is even on bills in China ! It would be like Germany putting Hitler’s face on euros… China should first get rid of its dictarorial regime whose ultimate moral reference is a mass murderer. And, talking about land rights, we should remember that China occupies the whole Tibet, colonizes this country with the last brutality and seems not to be concerned about the double standards this behave represents.

November 26, 2013 at 17:48

Let me ask you. My dad stole your car. He then gave the car to me. my dad died later. You manage to find me after 20 years and asked for the car back. I refuses and the court will not back you up because there is a Statute of limitations in law.

However, you are confusing national war apology between 2 countries (that has no Statute of limitations) with a common crime. A national wrong-doing carries its debt forever, until forgiven by the victim. It is too bad you are born in that country that committed the atrocities, and as its citizen must bare the burden. Otherwise, every country will happily go invade another country with no consequences. We are civilized people after all, right?

November 27, 2013 at 03:21

Extremely funny to see some Chinese nationalists here glorifying a mass murderer, aka Mao, in order to legitimate a dictatorial regime and its criminal policies. Double standard again.

The point is clear : the same government which is asking for apologies, 70 years after the facts to people even not born at the time, is the same that is explaining quietly how Mao, the worst mass murderer in history, is an absolutely immaculate and responsible head of state that should not be, in any case, be compared to Staline or Hitler, eventhough their crimes are not as huge as our “beloved leader”.

The silence on Tibet is also utterly laughable…

Let communist China deal with its past as it sees fit, provided she just stops the apologies blackmail propaganda toward japan in order to fulfill its agressive nationalistic policy in Pacific toward all her neighbours, not only Japan.

And then here comes the nationalistic tribal vendettas rhetoric that supports the whole edifice :

“A national wrong-doing carries its debt forever, until forgiven by the victim”

Oh wow, until “the victime forgives” ? Let me know which courts acts in this fashion, making the victim the judge ? I do not know any, except maybe when, in absence of any legal frame, the “victim” uses revenge to obtain satisfaction, which means, that the victim is not the weaker as it can “make pay” the guilty. Maybe in some remote african countries can we find such type of “justice”. “Justice” that can be called also “brute force”.

Not too surprising though as Chinese nationalist-communist state is not too familiar with individual responsabilities and rights.

There is no such thing as a guilt inherited by the next generation, because one is only accountable for its own acts. Japan, the imperialist nation who launched a war on China in 1934 and then on, has been defeated, dismantled and its main leaders sentenced to death or prison in 1945 – 1946. Now, 70 years after the war, as for Germany, it is a democratic nation respecting UN chart and complies with international law. On the other hand, China is a dictatorship enjoying laogaïs, censorship and absence of free elections and enjoy the most criminal regime in history.

It is extremely shocking to see here some rare but radical extremists counting for nothing the very basic element of the international law philosophy such as the criminal nature of “tribal vendettas” which punish children for their parents or grand parents acts, the typical phraseology of fascists when it comes ot essentialize individuals, ethnic, religious ou social groups and freeze them in a category that fits the “us and them” logic.

Some chinese elements seem to be willing to “change topic” and use the old nationalistic trick to avoid an internal social explosion, and agressive territorial expansion is great to do this. The problem is, China is behaving like Japan in 1934. At some point, others asian nations and world powers will need to take actions and put China in front of its responsabilities, as they did with Japan back in 1941. National sovereignety of Taiwa, Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Korea is non negociable. By provoking everyone, China is encouraging tensions in the whole Pacific.

November 28, 2013 at 19:08

@HLD. Obviously, you have put in a lot of effort in your discourse condemning China’s demand for apology. Congratulations.

But….why have you left out mention of Korea’s similar demands ?

Can it be that if any nation is a democracy, they will be different set of rules for them ? Rule of Rebalancing or Over Balancing ?

Never mind anyway….HLD, you have your democratic right to choose and pick. That is called democracy and human rights ! I love you and democracy.

January 4, 2014 at 02:32

Statute of Limitations between countries? Are you stupid or what? You seem incapable of relating to realities, just book knowledge, you CIA payrolled troll.

November 26, 2013 at 18:21

Then, perhaps the European descendants should pack up and leave America, Australia and Canada which equal the size of more than 3 times China? Chinese (not only in China) just want Japanese leaders not to glorify and seeking ‘redress’ for psychotic mass murderers like Hitler who was after all a staunch ally of Japanese extreme right-wing militarists (now not only still thriving, but supported by popular Japanese Prime Ministers like Koizumi and Abe). Mao was never like Hitler if you have the slightest sense of logical analytic. In fact, he was Hitler’s arch enemy to resist the Japanese invasion forces. And under the ‘request’ of Hitler, Jews in Shanghai were rounded up by the Japanese to be put in ghettos to be left to starve to death…Luckily, the Chinese kept them alive by providing them with food…

November 27, 2013 at 01:21

Surely Hitler’s unlike Mao. Hitler killed millions of his enemies from other countries. Mao killed more than a hundred million of his own kind race in his rise and holding on to power Even the final count of deaths from ww1 and ww2 combined can’t top that. But of course none of the Chinese inside China knows this. They live in a different world where more than 60 million political prisoners are being tortured, forced to work and pooled for organ harvest is still the best place to live. Then again, they don’t know that either.

November 26, 2013 at 18:45

And talking about body count, how about WW2 Japanese body count as a percent of their total population? At least Mao managed to hold the US advances in Korea, but Japanese were and are still dreaming of reliving the ‘glory’ of the past, while the US watches on and smiles………..Doing away with both China and Japan (world’s 2nd and 3rd largest economies)…..How’s that for a deal? :)

November 27, 2013 at 01:36

Yujin, your Mao’s rise to plwer cost more than a 100 million of your own kind. WW2 death count totalled to 55 million. Who is more violent then, Japan+Germany+US+Russia+all other involved in ww2 or Mighty MAO? And one more thing, Mao’s soldiers also rape your women and looted your own kind during his rise to power more than the Imperial Japan did to you.

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