Monday, November 25, 2013

Destabilization feared with China’s creation of “air defense zone” in disputed islands US criticizes China over recent move to impose new rules on airspace

MANILA-Tensions escalate anew over China’s establishment last Saturday of an “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea including a group of uninhabited islets whose ownership has been disputed by China and Japan for decades.

Analysts are concerned that China’s move could increase the likelihood of triggering a wider armed conflict, pulling in the United States which is treaty-bound to protect Japan.

The islands, currently under control by Tokyo, are known as Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyu in China.  With the “air defense zone” the Chinese Defense Ministry compels noncommercial aircraft entering the zone to first identify themselves to Beijing, at the risk of facing “defensive emergency measures” by Chinese armed forces.

Japan has lodged a strong protest, with its Foreign Ministry calling the move “totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable as it includes the Japanese territorial airspace over the Senkaku Islands, an inherent territory of Japan.”

The United States Defense department has likewise sharply criticized China's action to impose new rules on airspace over islands, calling it a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region."

Beijing has grown more assertive in recent years with its territorial claims in the rest of Asia, which has resulted to heightened conflict among claimant states.

On December 5, top international experts will meet in Manila to discuss the issue of territorial maritime disputes in a roundtable discussion titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia", organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.

World-renowned experts Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines will form the distinguished panel of speakers.

Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara will keynote the event. Angara recently concluded over two decades of service in the Senate, having led the enactment of landmark laws like the Free High School Act, creation of CHED and TESDA, PhilHealth Act, Senior Citizens Act, and many others.

A former UP President, Angara initiated the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), which specializes in law and policy research services for the different maritime industries—shipping, fishing, seafaring and other marine resource uses.  It also provides legal advice and policy support in all maritime fields, including marine environment protection, maritime boundaries, maritime law enforcement, maritime security, and territorial studies.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre.  The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank.

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