China’s announcement to set up a defense identification zone over disputed waters in the East China Sea caught the US off guard, both was sino-US military relations had improved greatly, and it was the weekend before Thanksgiving. A known tactic, tells defense analyst Wendell Minnick in the VOA.
Both China and Japan’s air defense zones include the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands as they are known in China. Japan annexed the islets in the late 19th century. China claimed sovereignty over the archipelago in 1971, saying ancient maps show it has been Chinese territory for centuries.
Wendell Minnick, Asia editor for Defense News said Beijing’s move is a response to Japan’s actions three years ago to expand its zone.
Coming on a weekend before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, Minnick said the move by Beijing was clearly calculated to catch Washington off guard. “China’s announcement appears to be an attempt to salami slice as they call it. China has a tendency to take territory or enforce new rules at a time when the U.S. is very friendly to them. The U.S. has been working very hard to improve military to military relations with China,” he stated.
Minnick said the overlap of the two air defense zones raises some challenges for both Tokyo and Washington. However, he said it remains to be seen just how much China engages with Japanese and American jets in the area.
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