U.S. Airlines Advised to Give China Flight Plans over New Defense Zone
Washington – The United States advised its commercial airlines to notify Chinese authorities of flight plans when travelling through an air defense zone that Beijing established a week ago over the East China Sea, ratcheting up regional tensions. The United States said it expected U.S. carriers to operate in line with so-called notices to airmen issued by foreign countries, adding, however, that the decision did “not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirements.
The advice is in contrast with America’s close ally Japan, where the two major airlines have agreed with the Japanese government to fly through the zone without notifying China. Beijing wants foreign aircraft passing through the zone – including passenger planes – to identify themselves to Chinese authorities.
A U.S. administration official said China’s action appeared to be a unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea, which could “increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents”. “We urge the Chinese to exercise caution and restraint, and we are consulting with Japan and other affected parties throughout the region,” the official said.
The zone includes skies over islands at the heart of a tense territorial dispute between Japan and China and represents a historic challenge by the emerging new world power to the United States, which has dominated the region for decades. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is due to visit China, Japan and South Korea next week, and will try to ease tensions over the issue, senior U.S. officials said. Defying China’s declaration of the air defence zone, the United States, Japan and South Korea flew military aircraft through the area this week without informing Beijing. (Reuters)