We have right to set up another zone, Beijing envoy to Manila says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 4:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:25am

China has the sovereign right to establish another air defence identification zone similar to the one it has set up over the East China Sea, the country's envoy to the Philippines said.

When asked to comment about concerns that China might set up a similar system over the South China Sea, Ambassador Ma Keqing said it was Beijing's right to decide "where and when to set up the new air identification zone". However, she said she could not say if China had plans to create another.

Ma said the creation of the air defence zone in the East China Sea should not be a cause for concern.

"This will not hinder any normal freedom of flights within this area, if they've notified the Chinese authorities," she said.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said China's air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, had gone beyond the normal practice of other countries.

"By the establishment of this ADIZ in the East China Sea, we find that China is effectively transforming an entire air zone into its own domestic air space, which of course threatens freedom of flight," he said.

The US ambassador to Manila, Philip Goldberg, described China's move as dangerous, but said American airlines should notify the Chinese authorities of their flight plans.

"We do not believe that this is a move intended to build confidence," Goldberg told reporters.

China's new zone "will create tension and the possibility of miscalculations and that's never good", he said. "We can't, with commercial aircraft, take chances of miscalculation, so we have recommended to our commercial airlines that they give such notification."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing in Beijing yesterday most airlines travelling across the zone have reported their flight plans.