After military aircraft from the U.S., Japan, and South Korea ventured into China’s newly proclaimed East China Sea air defense identification zone, the Chinese Foreign Ministry softened, declaring: “The identification zone is not equal to the airspace,” and that all normal flights from any country will not be restricted. In the short term, this has averted a potential war in the South China Sea.
Soon after that incident, attention shifted to the South China Sea. Four aircraft carriers from three countries passed through the South China Sea within a week. China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier conducted a long-distance exercise for the first time, while two US aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and the USS George Washington, as well as the Japanese helicopter carrier JDS Ise, all appeared in nearby waters.
Experts believe that tension over control of the South China Sea is intensifying. Events like these are rare during peacetime.
Meanwhile, less than two weeks after the completion of the Bohai Bay Landing Maneuver, in which over 5000 officers participated, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced another blockade of the Bohai Strait, as well as large areas in the northern Yellow Sea. They are reported to be holding an 8-day military exercise.
The Chinese military expansion was noticed by neighboring countries, which are also actively preparing themselves. Japan’s Self-Defense Force will establish a new flight alert base in Okinawa next year and deploy the E-2C early warning aircraft system, specifically targeting the East China Sea area.
In 2015, they plan to introduce a highly advanced radar system, and the E-737 aerial refueling station, which will greatly improve monitoring and control over the disputed Diaoyu Islands waters.
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