DEFENCE
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Air Defence Identification Zone

Chinese public offers broad support to ADIZ

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 4:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 10:42am

The decision to establish an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea received general support among ordinary Chinese people, though some said the government reacted too softly after the entry of American bombers into the zone.

Yi Hai, a salesman and military enthusiast in his late 30s, said: "It's sort of a declaration of Chinese sovereignty over the zone … it's absolutely necessary for China to establish the zone."

Some people suspected the government's move may have been aimed at distracting attention from domestic problems. Others believed the personality of President Xi Jinping , increasingly known for his toughness, was a reason behind the announcement of the zone.

Jiang Haifeng, a Beijing-based newspaper editor, said: "It will distract the public's attention from domestic issues. The social conflicts might get more frequent as the economy slows down, and with the new reform measures and crackdown on corruption."

But Yi believed a tough stance on foreign diplomacy was the right thing to do. "Chinese businesses have been investing heavily overseas. A tough stance will help protect Chinese interests in overseas businesses."

Pan Yongjun, a school principal in his 50s, linked the move to the character of Xi. "This reflects President Xi Jinping's personal character. He is tough on certain issues," he said.

In an apparent challenge, the US Air Force flew two B-52 bombers through the zone on a return trip from the US territory of Guam on Tuesday. Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said the military was able to identify and monitor the US aircraft during their transit across the zone. This prompted some people to question the government's "soft" response.

"The authorities might lose their credibility if they fail to come up with a smart reaction," Yi said.

In a poll by the Global Times Public Opinion Research Centre under the state-owned newspaper Global Times, 53.6 per cent of respondents believed that establishing the zone would give China the upper hand in solving its disputes over the Diaoyus, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

Of respondents, 39.5 per cent believed it would help to stabilise the region, while only 4.3 per cent believed it would have a negative impact on China.

In all, 1,107 respondents, aged above 18, in seven cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu , Xian , Changsha and Shenyang - had taken part in the survey by Monday.

Another survey conducted by a user on China.com showed that more than 99 per cent of 110,000 respondents supported the central government's move yesterday, with fewer than 0.5 per cent opposing it.

"There's little chance it will escalate into a real war. It would be just a war of words," said Pan.