China’s Restriction on Airspace Over Disputed Islets Could Lead to War

Weekend declaration by China ratchets up chances of conflict with Japan and the U.S.

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MC3 Ricardo R. Guzman / U.S. Navy

U.S. sailors load an air-to-air missile onto an F-18 on the deck of the carrier U.S.S. George Washington in the western Pacific, not far from China, on Nov. 22, 2013

The news of a welcome, if temporary, early-Sunday diplomatic breakthrough between the international community and Iran over its nuclear-development efforts overshadowed a far more ominous announcement from China.

Beijing declared an “air-defense identification zone” Saturday over a swath of the East China Sea that is home to islands administered by Japan. It could spin out of control far more quickly than the spinning Iranian centrifuges that much of the world believes Tehran has been using to develop nuclear weapons. The eight barren isles — two of which are under control of the U.S. military — are called the Senkaku Islands (in Japan) and the Diaoyu Islands (in China).

While the U.S. has declared it takes no position on what Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “ultimate sovereignty” of the islands, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said shortly after China’s announcement that it represented a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.” He made clear that the U.S. would go to war alongside Japan to preserve Tokyo’s ambiguous control of the islands, as he did last month in the Japanese capital. “Since they are under Japan’s administrative control,” Hagel said on Oct. 3, “they fall under United States treaty obligations to Japan.”

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China has said that as of Nov. 23 its military forces will take “defensive emergency measures” if aircraft enter the zone without reporting their flight plans or identifying themselves to China. While Beijing didn’t detail the measures it might take, it dispatched a pair of reconnaissance planes, backed by fighter jets, into the zone the same day, the Defense Ministry said. (Japan sent a pair of F-15 fighters airborne in response; the Chinese spy planes avoided confrontation by heading home a short time later, according to officials in Tokyo.)

But with both sides sending warplanes and warships to the islands in an increasingly bellicose game of maritime cat and mouse, a mistake, deliberate or otherwise, could set off a shooting war in short order, Pentagon officials fear. General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, chief of the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific, recently warned that China’s “increasingly … aggressive approach” toward the islands runs “the risk of creating the potential for miscalculation.”

The dispute is part of the ebb and flow of regional power in a tense corner of the world, where China, Japan and Taiwan all lay claim to the islands. While uninhabited, the islands’ surrounding waters are rich in fish, natural gas and oil.

Tensions have been on the rise in recent years over conflicting claims to the islands, and spiked last year after Japan bought three of the islets from a Japanese family. Beijing claims Japan stole the islands from China in 1895, while Japan says they were unclaimed by any nation when it took them over. Nationalists in each country are insisting they belong to their side.

“Given the historical animosity between China and Japan and the strong nationalist sentiment on both sides regarding the sovereignty of the islands, the Senkaku Islands dispute is especially intense,” said a report issued last Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a study group created by the U.S. Congress in 2000. “Tensions continued to simmer throughout 2013 as both sides enhanced their naval and maritime law enforcement presence in the disputed waters to assert their claims.”

Between 1945 and ’72, the U.S. ruled the islands, and to this day the U.S. military controls two of them — Kuba and Taisho. The U.S. used Kuba for bombing practice until 1978. The status-of-forces agreement between Tokyo and Washington says that “the facilities and areas used by the United States armed forces shall be returned to Japan whenever they are no longer needed for purposes of this Agreement.” Yet the pair of islands remains under U.S. control 35 years after the U.S. last conducted bombing runs there.

Senkaku Islands

Sankei via Getty Images

Three of the eight islands

In fact, Japanese citizens cannot land on either of the islands without first getting permission from the U.S. military, Akira Kato, a professor of political science at Tokyo’s Obirin University, said in an April report by the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.

“The Senkaku dispute is a part of a power struggle between the existing superpower — the United States — and the rising revolutionary power — China,” said the study by the East-West Center, a 1960 creation of the U.S. Congress. “As a militant Japan did in the past, dictatorial China is now challenging the existing global order which was created and is protected by the United States. China is beginning to test if the United States has the capacity to maintain the current global order through testing U.S. resolve in regional disputes, including in the Senkaku Islands.”

The islands’ 1,700 acres of desolation now loom as the firing pin in the U.S. military’s pivot to Asia.

207 comments
voilasept
voilasept

Let me translate the title as:

"Japan’s Restriction on Airspace Over Disputed Islets Could Lead to War" -- USSR Kremlin Street news, 1961.

(FYI, Japan sets up its air defense recognition zone in 1960s) Stupid, isn't it?

This is China's rightful response to Abe's militarization and his aggressiveness of the disputed island.

Recently Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine, which worships Hideki Tōjō. To worship Hideki, to Chinese (also Korean), is the same as worshiping Bin Laden for the Americans. 

If Abe wants war, so be it!

MichaelFlores
MichaelFlores

The islands belong to China but failure to establish ownership in 1895 or present ownership papers to the UN is inexcusable.


We placed an oil embargo against Imperial Japan's invasion of Asia during WW 2.

Today we must again stand firm but against a former ally, China.

A WW 3 would devastate both China and the US however.


CesarBorgia
CesarBorgia

Good, the only thing that will revitalize our economy and get us out of the Great Recession is a war. Republicans don't like spending money on unemployment but they'll spend it like drunken sailors for a war.

azmalhome
azmalhome

American never cooperate japan enough, because china is not with oil mine enough. just to remember the war of Vietnam, it was between china and USA, Vietnam was a terrace as war land. 

http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/ 


palmo
palmo

Since China claims that Japan stole the islands from them  in 1895 !!! I wonder why they remained silent till now??? the issues started only when they found out that the island have significant oil and mineral resources that have yet to be exploited. 

I really support US interference in this disputes because there is a saying" big insects eats small insects" if US didn't interfere in this disputes there is chance of china forcefully occupying the island with their military power..if we let china to do as they wish  with the Japan, then nothing to mention about what china will do with  the other smaller countries who have territorial disputes with china.

it is not just that US is supporting of Japan for the treaty sake, they have their own interest in this disputes.first, a power struggle; Secondly, those two islets Kuba and Taisho which is still under U.S. military controls.if the islands goes in the hands of  china then US wont be able to enjoy their rights on these islands.




voilasept
voilasept

@palmoBecause China experienced seemlying endless wars (civil wars, war with Japan and USSR) until 1949, and followed by civil unrest such as "cultural revolution". Everything settles down only in 1970s when the island disputes were brought into light. I have to say the first Chinese communist leaders like Mao lack the diplomatic vision. But this does not affect the fact the Japan steals the islands from China and Korean and did anti-human crimes.

Because US is an ally of Japan, it will back up Japan whatever Japan did and will do. No problem. Lets see what will happen.

Arimathean
Arimathean

I wonder is Japan is tacitly allowing/encouraging the US to retain control of the two islands to ensure our involvement in any hostilities that might arise.  If so, it's a brilliant move.

Peter_Penguin
Peter_Penguin

America stirs the bubbling pot.  How will it taste, we wonder?
worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2013/11/sky-wars.html

LarrySirhall
LarrySirhall

This is  most disconcerting as I do not see any what I would consider to be valid reasoning behind China's increasinlgy bellicose actions. Going back in time, we see where China's aged military leadership viewed war with the United States as inevitable. Then China seized the northern Phillipine Islands, thereby giving China control over no less than 25% of the world's shipping tonnage. Then they use a missle to destroy a satellite for no reason other than to increase the debris traveling at 17,000 mph and putting the civilized world's satellites at risk of destruction. Now with our lunar mission about to launch, a mission in planning and development for years, China will launch its own lunar mission which will effectively negate our research. China could delay its launch a few days thereby allowing our mission to succeed and still acheiving its stated objectives. China actively hacks into all of our military/industrial computer networks, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Perhaps China is acting on the Alzheimer-based opinions of its military leadership. I honestly wish China would not do so. Their leaders need to honestly evaluate the situation. There is a reason that the United States is atop the food chain. We adhere to democratic principles and a fundamentally free market economy. For the forseeable future China is, and will remain, a third-world country because its form of government does not allow for advancement. Once set in motion, the wheels leading to war can be difficult to stop. I hope and pray ("yes" China, it is legal to pray in the U.S.) that we can deviate from the path we're on. Larry

olegringe
olegringe

@LarrySirhall nice post not to mention the detonation of a nuclear nuke above see level to create an electromagnetic pulse and shut down all electronic hardware. If a war in the pacific is coming that will surely happen

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@azmalhome The Japanese have stronger national character than Americans. They rose from defeat in World War Two, two atomic bombs and much sacrifice to lead Asia in terms of economic prosperity for decades. While it is with the help of America, it is to their credit that they overcome adversity. Do not count them out. In short, they can stand on their own two feet.  There are many countries helped by the United States but not only still dependent on us would not hesitate to stab us at the back if opportunity arises. Look at Pakistan.


JustinCarrigan
JustinCarrigan

The Japanese would not stab the US in the back. I lived in Japan when the N. Koreans were "testing" missiles by firing them over Japanese airspace and testing their first batch of nuclear weapons. Japan has a strong defense force but they alone could not compete with China from a purely logistical standpoint without direct US intervention. The main reason why the Japanese were defeated in the Second World War was because of lack of resources and the inability to sustainably project military power against the US that had all the manpower and resources to take the war to Japan.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@azmalhome If Muslims are not afraid of death they should stay in their own countries and kill each other. I am sure there are enough virgins waiting in the after life for them. How can they misunderstand the Quran {no, I would not call it holy} when their very actions reflect the book teachings ? Do you mean the Islamic scholars have misunderstood the text ? And if they had why is there no Muslim brave enough to stand up and point out the line ? Ah yes, they are afraid they will be killed. Being a fan of Robert Spencer no Muslim is willing to face him a debate and those who did regretted it.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@JustinCarrigan Muslims believe in Taqqiya. That the end justify the means. History is replete with cities, towns and even countries who have accepted Muslim in their midst to their sorrow. Treachery and betrayal. Look at England. Heard there are parts of London that operate under Sharia law.

azmalhome
azmalhome

@ReneDemonteverde @azmalhome in the world Muslim people are less than 1.5 million, but hypocrisy-Muslim are more than 1.5 billion. mostly Muslim are deaf and blind to realizing accurately of holy quran. nowadays people consider money and sex at first of all,Muslim not exceptional too, but they use the religion according to them choice.

..

do you know? Muslim could not inhale cigarette at all, mostly Muslim don't want to accept this law.   http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/smoke-biggest-problem-for-muslim/

if you want to know about Islam laws, then you must have to read of Quran, if you're pious then try to find a few mistake information of science into Quran. http://quran.com/



Quran 2:6-18 Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe. God/Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment. And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not. In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease more, and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie. And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.” Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupter, but they perceive [it] not. And when it is said to them, “Believe as the people have believed,” they say, “Should we believe as the foolish have believed?” Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know [it] not. And when they meet those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers.” [But] Allah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression [while] they wander blindly. Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided. Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see. Deaf, dumb and blind – so they will not return [to the right path].

muhua55
muhua55

The Diaoyu Islands are belong to China

PakSingTham
PakSingTham

China is already pumping away at the oil.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

This is just another sign of the expansion planned of China. This should cause America to think. China is a nuclear armed country. Can America afford a nuclear armed expansionist Iran ? If Iran can cause problem in the Mid East region without the nuclear weaponry, think how reckless they would be more if they had ? If countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt starts to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, the risk for a nuclear war would be far greater. This is what many of the pacifists fail to see. Cut the problem out now before it is too large to cut out without risking a nuclear war.

CaliTo
CaliTo

China BLINK!!!!

Like a CRY BABY who is caught red handed...it now says..it allowed the B52s flew unhampered. 

In real language, China DOES NOT HAVE the BALLS to challenge mighty USA!!!

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@CaliTo You think this is all child`s play, do you ? Who blinks first. Obama would be the last person you want in charge in situations like this.

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

The Chinese thugs need to be taught a lesson - bring it on...

muralidhar
muralidhar

china is mad it is testing US, it blackmails US by its debt shadow where US owe, by aggressive posture US will loose economy and still becomes weaker ,china has scripted play to pull US, it is high time to give back the same game some where in the globe.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

China bad, Japan good. (a one-eighty)

Everybody clicks heels.

Well, almost everybody.