WASHINGTON – The United States has asked China not to set up another air defense identification zone in Asia, warning the move could lead the U.S. military to change its posture in the region, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.
“We oppose China’s establishment of an ADIZ in other areas, including the South China Sea” where China is involved in territorial rows with Southeast Asian countries, Evan Medeiros, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, said in an interview.
“We have been very clear with the Chinese that we would see that (setting of another ADIZ) as a provocative and destabilizing development that would result in changes in our presence and military posture in the region,” Medeiros said.
The official made the remarks as the U.S. government has strongly reacted to China’s establishment of an ADIZ in November over the East China Sea, saying the move undermined regional stability. Beijing claims the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the area as its own.
Medeiros said the U.S. government has been working with the Japanese government in “very strong coordination” on the ADIZ issue.
Washington thinks Beijing set up an ADIZ over the East China Sea “to try and bolster its claims to disputed territories,” he said, referring to the uninhabited Senkakus, islands that China calls the Diaoyus.
China began to claim the Senkakus in the 1970s after studies indicated there may be vast oil reserves in the surrounding sea bed.
“We do not accept, we do not acknowledge, we do not recognize China’s declared ADIZ,” Medeiros said. Washington has said the Senkakus are covered by its security treaty with Tokyo, which obliges the United States to defend Japan.
Top U.S. officials have criticized China for setting up without prior consultation such a defense zone that overlaps with similar zones operated by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Medeiros dismissed a view that the United States will try harder to join hands with China and lead decision-making on international issues under a so-called Group of Two framework. “Nobody wants it,” Medeiros said, referring to the G-2 concept.
The NSC official said there are “serious sources of competition in the U.S.-China relationship and that these need to be managed.”
“When we look at major powers in East Asia who share our interests, who share our values, and who are actively working with us to solve problems, Japan is at the top of the list,” he said.