Expressing regret that Beijing issued a map earlier in the day of an East China Sea air defense identification zone that includes the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), the Taiwanese government yesterday called on all parties involved to remain calm in dealing with the issue to avoid an escalation of regional tensions.
The islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are also claimed by Taiwan and Japan.
China’s ministry of Defense issued a statement on its Web site yesterday regarding the establishment of the zone.
The statement was accompanied by a map and a set of rules regarding the zone, which stated that all aircraft must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or do not comply with orders from Beijing.
It did not elaborate on the punitive measures, but said the rules went into effect yesterday.
In response, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) expressed regret over China’s move and said the military would take measures to protect national security and sovereignty in accordance with relevant regulations and rules.
Later yesterday, the National Security Council issued a statement which referred to the East China Sea peace initiative promoted by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in August last year and called on all parties to show restraint, shelve disputes and work together to develop the resources in the waters around the Diaoyutai Islands through joint efforts.
Commenting on the matter, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), who sits on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, called on China not to incite regional tension.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who also sits on the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, suggested that China’s move was aimed at Japan, as China did not include Taiwan’s Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) in its East China Sea air defense identification zone.
Li Fung, a Hong Kong-based Chinese military expert, said that China’s move can be regarded as an effort to bolster Beijing’s sovereignty claims over the islands.
It also showed the Chinese government is preparing for military conflict with Japan over the disputed islands, Li said.
Tensions between China and Japan have escalated after Japan purchased three of the five Senkaku Islands from their private owners in September last year and nationalized them.
This move was seen as undermining a tacit agreement between China and Japan, Li said.
Japan has also taken a similar measure by creating a military identification zone over the disputed islands, Li added.
Since then, China has sent regular coast guard patrols to the islands, which are 200km northeast of Taiwan and 400km west of Japan’s Okinawa.