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Defense Ministry spokesman on China's air defense identification zone
2013/12/04

Following is a statement made by Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, on China's establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ):

The Chinese government announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on Nov. 23, 2013. It is a necessary measure for China to protect its state sovereignty and territorial and airspace security. It is conducive to maintaining flying safety in international airspace, and is in line with international laws and conventions. The announcement of the East China Sea ADIZ has earned understanding and recognition from an increasing number of countries and peoples, but misunderstandings or even distortions also exist. Representing the Chinese Defense Ministry, I make some interpretations on some issues that the outside world is concerned about.

Some people take the ADIZ to be a territorial airspace by falsely saying that China violates other countries' interests; some equate the ADIZ with a no-fly zone, accusing China of severely undermining the freedom of overflight. Both statements are incorrect. An ADIZ is essentially different from territorial airspace or no-fly zones. It is not a country's territorial airspace, but an international airspace demarcated outside the territorial airspace for the purpose of identification and early warning; it is not a no-fly zone, and will not affect the freedom of overflight, based on international laws, of other countries' aircraft. According to international practice, a country can identify and verify aircraft entering its ADIZ. China's ADIZ was established to set aside enough time for early warning to defend the country's airspace, with defense acting as the key point. The zone does not aim at any specific country or target, nor does it constitute a threat to any country or region.

Some people doubt China's monitoring capabilities in the East China Sea ADIZ. The Chinese military's determination and volition to safeguard the security of national territory and territorial airspace are unwavering, and the military is fully capable of exercising effective control over the East China Sea ADIZ. Generally, supervision and control are exercised through reported flight plans and radar response and identification, among other means. Military planes can also take flight if necessary to identify entering targets. Measures to be taken are based on factors such as an entering aircraft's attributes -- military or civilian, the extent of threat, or distance. Fighter planes are unnecessary when an entering aircraft is found to pose no threat to us, but necessary surveillance is needed; when the entering threat is ascertained to reach a certain extent, military aircraft will be mobilized at an appropriate time to dispose of the situation. It is well-known that civil flights pose no threat in most circumstances. China always respects other countries' freedom of overflight according to international laws, so that international flights that fly normally within the rules in the East China Sea ADIZ will not be affected, as such is the fact.

Some people say that China's requirement of reporting flight plans is unusual, and a very few countries have even pressured their civil aviation companies and demanded that they should not report flight plans to China. There is no unified international rule as to how to ask other countries to report flight plans to the ADIZ demarcators. Many countries require aircraft flying over their air defense identification zones to report flight plans beforehand. China is not special in doing so. Actually, since the announcement of the East China Sea ADIZ, a majority of civil aviation companies with their air routes traversing the area have reported flight plans to China's civil aviation department, including some airlines of Japan. We have also noticed that some countries' military planes took it seriously after China's announcement of the East China Sea ADIZ. China's requirement of reporting flight plans and relevant information is conducive to ensuring flight safety and avoiding misunderstanding and misjudgment, considering heavy air traffic in airspace over the East China Sea. A very few countries' insistence on not reporting flight plans is not beneficial, nor responsible.

We have noticed that a very few countries have said that China's setting up of the East China Sea ADIZ has unilaterally altered the East China Sea's status quo, and escalated regional tension. The fact is that they established an ADIZ as early as 1969 and later expanded its scope many times to only 130 km toward our coastline from its west end, which covers most of the airspace of the East China Sea, so they are not qualified at all to make irresponsible remarks on China's lawful and rational act. Since September 2012, Japan has been making trouble over territorial disputes, staging a farce by announcing that it would "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands, frequently sending vessels and planes to disturb Chinese ships and planes in normal exercises or training, openly making provocative remarks such as shooting down Chinese drones, playing up the so-called China threat, escalating regional tension, creating excuses for revising its current constitution and expanding its military, trying to deny the result of the World War II, and refusing to implement the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. Japan's actions have seriously harmed China's legitimate rights and security interests, and undermined the peace and stability in east Asia. China has to take necessary reactions. A very few countries must earnestly reflect on their actions and correct their wrong remarks and wrongdoings. Other parties concerned should also mind their words and actions, and should not do things to undermine regional stability and bilateral relations. Other parties should not be incited, or send wrong signals to make a very few countries go further on the wrong track, which will follow the same old disastrous road and undermine regional and world peace.

China unswervingly adheres to the road of peaceful development and a defensive national defense policy. The East China Sea ADIZ is a zone of safety, not risks, a zone of cooperation, not competition. We are willing to conduct active communication and consultation with relevant parties to jointly safeguard flight safety and promote peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region.

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