The vast majority of Chinese back an air defense zone declared over disputed waters, a survey released yesterday said, despite the move sharply escalating tensions in the region.
Nearly 85 percent of respondents believe the air defense identification zone over an area that includes islands administered by Japan would “safeguard [China’s] airspace security,” according to the poll by the state-run Global Times newspaper.
The newspaper, which is close to the Chinese Communist Party and often takes a nationalistic stance, said 53.6 percent of respondents believed the zone would help push the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Beijing’s favor.
Known as the Senkakus in Japan, the islands are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.
Another 39.5 percent of those surveyed felt it would “create a more stable landscape with an even power struggle formed between China and Japan.”
The newspaper added that 4.3 percent felt the zone’s creation “will do harm to China as it may be used by Japan to play up China’s military assertiveness.”
The survey also asked for a suggested response when a “foreign aircraft illegally enters the air defense zone.”
Almost 90 percent called for the military to send planes to “intercept and drive off,” while 60 percent agreed with opening fire “after warning is ineffective.”
The zone — which would require aircraft to obey China’s orders — provoked strong objections from Tokyo and Washington, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on China to “restrain itself.”
More than 1,100 adults in seven major cities were surveyed by the paper.