China announced Saturday the creation of an "air defense identification zone" covering an area that includes the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing and the source of growing tensions.
The announcement was made Saturday by the Chinese Defense Ministry in a brief communique citing the laws covering the creation of the air defense identification zone and specifying the geographical area it covers, which includes the archipelago in dispute.
Besides mapping out the zone, the Chinese Defense Ministry launched a series of rules on how aircraft entering it must be identified, and threatening a military response if the rules are not observed.
Aircraft must report their flight plans to China, state their nationality and maintain radio contact with Chinese officials, the decree says.
The zone's perimeter encloses a wide area of the East China Sea, from South Korea to Taiwan, that includes the islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.
"The Chinese armed forces will adopt emergency defensive measures against aircraft that do not cooperate with the process of identification or refuse to follow instructions," the Chinese Defense Ministry said.
In effect since this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. local time (0200 GMT), the Chinese identification rules could further increase tensions between China and Japan after more than a year of conflict over the sovereignty of the archipelago, which intensified when Tokyo announced its purchase of three of the tiny islands from a private owner in September 2012.
In response to the announcement about the air defense identification zone, Japan presented Saturday an "energetic protest" to the Chinese government.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe communicated its profound concern and dissatisfaction to China following the Chinese Foreign Ministry's announcement. EFE