Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun responds to questions on the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.
Q： Why does the Chinese government decide to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone? Is it related to the current situation in the region?
A：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. It allows early-warning time and provides air security.
Following the international practice, the Chinese government sets up the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone 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.
Q: What is the basis for China to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?
A: The setup of East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone by the Chinese government is not only based on adequate legitimate reference, but also in accordance with current international practice. Since the 1950s, more than 20 countries including some major countries and China’s neighboring countries have successively established Air Defense Identification Zones. Chinese government’s relevant behavior is in line with the UN Charter and other international laws and customs. China’s domestic laws and regulations such as the Law of the PRC on National Defense, the Law of PRC on Civil Aviation and Basic Rules on Flight have also clearly stipulated on the maintenance of territorial land and air security and flight order.
Q: How is the coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone defined? Why is the boundary of the Zone only 130 km away from some country’ territory?
A: The coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone is defined by China’s need for air defense and maintaining flight order. Actually the easternmost point of the Zone is so close to China that combat aircraft can soon reach China’s territorial airspace from the point. Therefore it is necessary for China to identify any aircraft from this point to assess its intentions and examine its identities so as to allow enough early-warning time for responsive measures in maintaining air security. In addition, 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.
Q: What responding measures will the Chinese side take when foreign aircraft enter the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?
A: Announcement of the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the People’s Republic of China has made specific rules on the identification of aircraft in related airspace. In the face of air threats and unidentified flying objects coming from the sea, the Chinese side will identify, monitor, control and react depending on different situations. We hope that all parties concerned work actively with the Chinese side to jointly maintain flight safety.
What needs to be specified is that the Chinese side has always respected the freedom of over-flight 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. Normal flights by international air liners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone will not be affected in any way.
Q: Will China establish other Air Defense Identification Zones?
A: China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.
(source: the Ministry of National Defense)