WASHINGTON – The United States has urged China to set up an emergency hotline with Japan and South Korea to avoid confusion in Beijing’s newly declared air defense zone.
Washington does not recognize Beijing’s air defense identification zone, which extends over the East China Sea and the Japan-held Senkaku Islands, and has called on China to get rid of it. Amid heightened tensions over the Senkakus, whose ownership is contested by China, the U.S. proposed the hotline’s creation Friday.
“As we work through this process, they (China) need to do a few things right now to immediately lower tensions,” deputy U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
“China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels to address the dangers that its recent announcement has created,” she said.
The United States has said that its military aircraft will ignore China’s demands that flight plans be filed when passing through the ADIZ. But Washington has urged commercial airlines to stick by Federal Aviation Administration guidelines to stay safe.
Harf said one of the potential dangers is that because the ADIZ overlaps airspace administered by other countries, China has “created a situation in which two different authorities claim to give orders to civilian aircraft, which could potentially create confusion.”
It “creates a destabilizing dynamic, which could compel China’s neighbors to take further actions to respond,” she said.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said during a visit to Beijing on Thursday that regional peace and stability are in China’s interests.
“As China’s economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continue to grow as well, because it has so much more to lose,” he said. “That’s why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security.”
Harf said that while there is no treaty governing how nations create such air zones, “there are established practices of states to ensure the safety of civil and state aircraft.” As a regional power, she said, China must seek “to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation, to not do things that raise tensions in the region, to act responsibly.”