A senior US diplomat has warned China not to implement the air defense identification zone it has declared in the East China Sea and “certainly not” replicate such a zone in the South China Sea.
He said the air defense identification zone announcement had caused confusion, threatened to interfere with freedom of overflight in international airspace and raised questions about China’s intent and the manner in which it is dealing with its neighbors “particularly at a sensitive time and in sensitive areas.”
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made the remarks while briefing foreign press stationed in Washington on US policy plans in East Asia for this year.
Russel did not mention Taiwan once during the 45-minute briefing, but took a much tougher stand than usual against Beijing’s actions.
“On the security front, we’re working to modernize our alliances and ensure that we can cooperate seamlessly with partners to respond to crises and contingencies,” he said.
“The short point is that a peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific depends in large part on a credible US security presence,” he said.
Russel said that the US had expressed its concerns about the air defense identification zone “at a very high level” and had been candid, direct and constructive.
“The US is concerned by a range of developments in the East China Sea and in the South China Sea, particularly actions that are unilateral, actions that are a provocative assertion of claims in non-diplomatic, non-legal ways,” he said.
“That kind of activity raises questions about commitment to the rule of law... It raises questions about long-term objectives of some of the countries in the region,” he said.
Russel said the US had a “huge stake” in ensuring that the Asia-Pacific region remained open and respected international law.
“Both here and globally, the US has a national interest in freedom of navigation, in unimpeded lawful commerce, in respect for international law and for peace on the high seas,” he said.
“It matters to us and we take a strong position that all maritime claims must accord with international customary law,” Russel said.
He said the Chinese air defense zone was “not consistent” with regional stability and that it raised tensions at a time when tensions should be reduced.
“We see it as a move that increases, not decreases the risk of miscalculation or of confrontation or of accidents,” he added.
He said there was an “unfortunate spike” in tensions in the region, and the US and all countries in East Asia had a strong vested interest in lowering them.
“Although the US doesn’t mediate issues such as the disputes and tensions between the Japanese and the Chinese governments, we have a strategic interest in the peaceful resolution through diplomatic means of those disputes,” Russel said.
“No country benefits from tension,” he added.
“I won’t speak on behalf of the Chinese, nor will I share confidences, particularly with regard to the question of whether the Chinese may take further actions,” the assistant secretary said.
“But there can be no doubt in the minds of the Chinese leaders and decisionmakers that the US is very sincere in our counsel against steps that threaten the status quo, threaten the stable environment that has been instrumental in the extraordinary development of the Chinese economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, China’s declaration of the zone in the East China Sea has not led to a “significant” increase in interactions between its forces and US military planes flying in the area, the head of the US Pacific Command said yesterday.
There continues to be “professional” interactions between the two sides in the zone, US Admiral Samuel Locklear said during a conference call with reporters yesterday.
The US does not recognize the zone and has not changed its operations in the area, he said.
“We haven’t seen a significant change in those interactions since the establishment, or the reported establishment, of the air defense zone by the Chinese,” he said.
“So the good news is that military forces are acting professionally as we interact in these areas,” he added.
The US and China will continue to pursue opportunities to develop military relations and the US has invited the Chinese navy to participate alongside about 20 countries in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise this summer in Hawaii, the admiral said.
“I have it on good authority that they’re coming,” and India is also considering participating, he said. “These are confidence-building military measures that help us prevent miscalculation and help us to move forward peacefully.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on