Sunday, May 31, 2015

China Says South Sea Air Defense Zone Depends on Security

China will base its decision on establishing an air defense identification zone around disputed waters in the South China Sea on its assessment of the security situation, a senior Chinese military official said on Sunday.

Land reclamation work by China around disputed islands has led to speculation it will declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which will require overflying aircraft to identify themselves to Chinese authorities. The United States has expressed concern that Chinese actions threaten freedom of navigation and security in the Asia-Pacific.

Admiral Jianguo, a deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, told a regional security forum that China's actions are peaceful and legitimate, calling on other countries to stop trying to "sow discord" over the matter.

"There is no reason for people to play up this issue in the South China Sea," Sun said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, adding that an ADIZ depends on any threats to air or maritime security.

Sun's comments came as proceedings at the Shangri-La Dialogue were overshadowed by news that police had shot dead one man and detained two others in a car that tried to crash through barricades around the venue before dawn. Police said it was unrelated to the conference.

The shooting happened yards from the hotel where dozens of defense leaders and military heads, including U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, were staying although none were in any danger.

All three were Singaporean and they weren't carrying any weapons, although the men arrested were carrying substances believed to be drugs, Singapore Police Force said.

On Saturday, Carter told the forum that China's reclamation activities boosted the risk of "miscalculation or conflict", drawing a scathing response from China's foreign ministry.

However, Sun maintained a measured tone in his address, refraining from singling out the United States for criticism and emphasizing China's commitment to peaceful relations.

"China has always kept in mind the larger interests of maritime security," Sun said, reiterating that his country's "indisputable" claims over the waters were based on legal and historical evidence.

"We hope relevant countries will work together in the same direction to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and co-operation," he said.

(Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar and David Alexander; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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