Air Defence Identification Zone
The Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace over land or water in which the ready identification, location, and control of civil aircraft over land or water is required in the interest of national security. China's Defence Ministry announced its ADIZ over a vast area in the East China Sea on November 23, 2013, which covers the area around the Diaoyu islands, controlled by Japan and known as the Senkaku Islands. The establishment of this zone drew strong opposition from Japan, the US and South Korea, becoming a flashpoint in East Asian politics and security.
Chances of war between China and Japan increasing, says ex-PLA officer Luo Yuan
Retired PLA general says China is ready and rejects claims of Japanese combat superiority, although some analysts are not convinced
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A retired People's Liberation Army senior officer says a war with Japan over territorial disputes is becoming increasingly likely and that China is more than capable of defending itself.
Other military experts are not convinced the PLA would win any future conflict, despite China's military build-up and modernisation.
Some cite the PLA's lack of battle experience as well as technological weaknesses in certain areas, aircraft engines for example, that could hinder the PLA's fighting capability.
China and Japan moved closer to armed conflict after Beijing established its first air defence identification zone last November in the East China Sea to include the disputed Diaoyu islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, Major General Luo Yuan said.
"China should remain in a high state of vigilance because Japan has a history of manufacturing small incidents to trigger military conflict," Luo said.
Luo, a vice-president of a Beijing-based think tank of retired military officers, the China Strategy Culture Promotion Association, dismissed suggestions in some Japanese media reports that the country had air combat superiority because its pilots and crews had greater experience and training.
"That conclusion is a deceptive tactic used by Japan to confuse the public," he said.
The PLA has deployed its most advanced aircraft and logistical support to military bases along China's southeast coast, a move designed to show that the army is prepared for any military conflict in the area.
"So far, all aircraft sent by both countries to the Diaoyu waters have been third-generation fighter jets. The PLA's newest and most advanced planes entered service at the turn of this century, including the J-10, J-11B and the [Russian-made] Su-27," said Luo.
"In contrast, Japan has deployed to the region only about 30 F-15Js, which their air force has used since the 1980s."
Luo declined to say how many fighter jets the PLA would mobilise in an armed conflict. He said China had an overwhelming advantage in the number and types of aircraft available.
"China has several military airports along the southeast coast that could provide effective logistical support to PLA fighter jets because those air force bases are much closer to the Diaoyus," he said.
"But in Japan, there is just one airport close to the Diaoyus: Naha airport in Okinawa."
Canada-based magazine Kanwa Asian Defence said the PLA's missile strategic force had deployed its S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile batteries at bases in Fujian since 2012.
Ni Lexiong , director of a defence policy research centre at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said he was not convinced the PLA would have the upper hand in any conflict.
"It's a fact that China's logistical support near the Diaoyus is better than Japan's because military bases in Fujian and Zhejiang province have been ready for war with Taiwan since the 1950s," he said. "But we shouldn't ignore the Americans, who would play a decisive role in any armed conflict between China and Japan."
Luo argued the US would not intervene in any conflict.
Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said that if hostilities did break out with Japan, all military bases and facilities on land and sea would be targets for bombing.
"China has more fighter jets than Japan, but one Japanese pilot is probably equivalent to at least three PLA pilots due to their intensive training and joint drills with the US air force," he said.