Wednesday, 27 November 2013

US bombers transit China's air defence zone

A pair of US long-range bombers carried out a pre-planned training mission November 26 through international air space designated last week as an 'air defense identification zone' (ADIZ) by China, The New York Times reported...China said November 23 that it reserves the right to oversee air traffic in the contested East China Sea region and to take action if necessary...None of the protocols insisted by Chinese defence forces were reportedly observed by the two US aircraft...Pentagon officials said the unarmed B-52s took off from Guam on a routine training exercise called “Coral Lightning” - scheduled before China's announcement - and that the United States will continue to assert its right to transit what is regarded as international air space...China’s options to enforce its own rules in the ADIZ are likely more rhetorical than physical, in many ways its military looks stronger than it really is, but Beijing is not likely to back down from its maritime expansion...With this latest move, the Pentagon is strongly responding to China’s unilateral demarcation and not letting the ADIZ affect its military’s transit schedule...Washington, realising the potential for heating relations between China and Japan, has wisely but still dangerously used its own aircraft in “bomber diplomacy”, rather than let Japan react in its own way...Tokyo is not pleased with the recent Chinese announcement and will respond by increasing its sea patrols and become even more militarily assertive, but the United States would prefer if the US airforce acted as a third party to the conflict...Japan has been relying less on the US military for protection over the past two years, so sending bombers flying over the disputed islands tells China that Washington will not be bullied by artificial lines while at the same time tells Tokyo that the US is still in overall control of the situation and is ready to step in at any time should the flashpoint ignite.

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