A formation of Chinese J-10 fighters. (Photo/CNS)
China's PLA Air Force is planning to establish an air defense identification zone above the East China Sea which overlaps with Japan's, reports the Tokyo-based Kyodo News.
Both nations' air defense identification zones extend far beyond their respective airspace, increasing the chance of aerial confrontation. Air defense identification zones are usually established as a buffer zone between a nation's airspace and the sky above the open sea. Once this zone is intruded upon, the nation has the right to intercept unidentified aircraft with fighters, the Tokyo-based Mainichi Newspapers reported.
Japan and Vietnam both have zones that extend over disputed regions in the East and South China seas. China's will most likely envelop the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands, which it claims, and could extend to Okinawan airspace.
China recently blamed Japan for extending its air defense identification zone to a region only 130 kilometers from Zhejiang province as well.
The establishment of a Chinese air defense identification zone was first suggested by cadres from the Air Force Command College, according to the Kyodo news report. During a press conference held on Oct. 31, Yang Yujun, spokesperson for China's defense ministry, did not deny the PLA's intention to create a defense zone, stating that military aircraft from PLA aviation units have the responsibility to defend Chinese airspace from any potential foreign attack.