Move to ‘South China Sea air defence zone’?


BEIJING – China’s efforts to protect its submarine gateway to the South China Sea could broaden from stand-offs with US military planes to announcing an air defence identification zone (ADIZ), according to two retired army officers.

China could seek to restrict the air space around Hainan Island as the US routinely runs surveillance flights in the area, retired colonel Yue Gang said. The move would mirror a zone China set up in November over portions of the East China Sea disputed with Japan.

“Although it’s premature to set up an air zone over the entire South China Sea at this moment, it makes sense to build a partial zone covering the waters near Hainan, where China’s biggest nuclear submarine base is located,” Mr Yue said. Encompassing air space deemed international by the US and by China as being within its exclusive economic zone, it would draw “red lines” for US military flights.

The Chinese foreign ministry has previously said that China has the right to adopt any security measures, including air zones, while calling reports of plans for one over the South China Sea “speculation”.
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