China Air Defense Identification Zone Map
A map released by state-run Xinhua News Agency, which marks the newly established Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes disputed areas in the East China Sea. Xinhua

Tension over disputed islands in the East China Sea rose further after China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the airspace of the territory. In response to backlash from Japan and the U.S., China has sent fighter jets and an early warning aircraft to patrol the area.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency announced the air patrolling after aircraft from South Korea, Japan and the U.S. flew through the newly-demarcated air zone, challenging the ADIZ rules. A particular cluster of islands, referred to as the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan and the U.S., has been a point of tension between the two East Asian nations for several years. Beijing had previously only responded by saying it was aware of the flights and was monitoring them.

Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the Chinese air force, described the Chinese military aircraft flyover as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices” in an official statement. “China’s air force is on high alert and will take measures to deal with the diverse air threats to firmly protect the security of the country’s airspace,” Shen also said.

In addition, China’s defense ministry hit back at Japan’s objections to the ADIZ. “Japan has absolutely no right to make irresponsible comments regarding China setting up the East China Sea ADIZ,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a press conference. Japan also has an ADIZ, which was established 44 years ago in 1969. In response to a reporter asking for a comment on requests from both Japan and the U.S. to revoke the Chinese ADIZ, Yang reportedly responded by sarcastically saying “We would like ask Japan to revoke its own ADIZ first, China will then consider this request in 44 years.”