ADAM SNEED politico.com Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Saturday the United States is “deeply concerned” over China’s move to establish an air defense zone over a string of disputed islands in the East China Sea. “We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region,” Hagel said in a statement. “This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.” The Associated Press reports that the Chinese Defense Ministry issued a map showing the new East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which encompasses what the Chinese call the Diaoyu islands. The move is seen as an aggressive step against Japan, which bought what it calls the Senkaku islands from private owners in 2012. The islands are uninhabited, but are believed to rest near large underwater oil reserves. Taiwan also claims possession of the islands. Hagel said the map will have no effect on how the United States conducts military operations in the area, and that concerns are being conveyed to China “through diplomatic and military channels.” Hagel also said the United States believes that the Senkaku islands are included as part of Japan in the U.S. Japan Mutual Defense Treaty. In a separate statement, Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to exercise restraint with foreign aircraft that don't identify themelves inside the air defense zone. "Escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident," Kerry said. "Freedom of overflight and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace are essential to prosperity, stability, and security in the Pacific."
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.