A recent U.S. suggestion for Japanese patrols in the South China Sea has elicited a sharp rebuttal by the Chinese government and reignited Chinese media discussion of a South China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ). An ADIZ would require all air traffic to obtain China’s permission before flying over the South China Sea, or risk being shot down.
In a strongly worded editorial the next day, the Global Times—the state-run People’s Daily’s more nationalistic and arguably less authoritative subsidiary newspaper—argued that China could respond to this rare open declaration of U.S. balancing against China by declaring a South China Sea ADIZ, quickening or expanding land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea or strengthening military cooperation with Russia in Northeast Asia (Global Times, January 30).
A Xinhua article said Japanese patrols would raise tensions with China and noted that Japan just commissioned a new surveillance plane, the P-1, with an 8,000 kilometre range, enabling Japan to have the military capability to conduct these patrols in the South China Sea (Xinhua, January 30).
On January 29, Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in Asia, said “I think that [Japan Maritime Self Defence Forces] operations in the South China Sea makes sense in the future… In the South China Sea, frankly, the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coastguard and the (navy) overmatch their neighbours” (Reuters, January 29).