US Secretary of State John Kerry warned China Tuesday against imposing an air defence zone over the South China Sea, similar to one it declared over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The Philippines warned last month that China’s announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea raised the prospect of it doing the same for the South China Sea.
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the strategically vital and potentially resource-rich South China Sea.
Beijing’s East China Sea air defence zone requires aircraft to provide flight plans when traversing the area, declare their nationality and maintain two-way radio communication, or face “emergency defensive measures”.
The zone covers disputed Tokyo-controlled islands — known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — where ships and aircraft from the two countries already shadow each other.
Analysts warn that the ADIZ in the East China Sea is a forerunner to a similar zone in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.
Kerry, in Manila for a two-day visit, threw his support behind the Philippines over its simmering South China Sea territorial row with China, calling Manila a “key treaty ally”.