Image source: Boeing

The United States showed its defiance to China by sending two unarmed B-52 bombers in the newly declared air-defense zone of the Chinese government, which covers the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan controls the disputed islands known as Senkaku. China claims the islands as part of its territory and calls it Diayou. The Chinese government had been increasing its maritime activities in the disputed area, and recently declared an air-defense identification zone effective November 23. The Chinese government announced that its military will take “defensive emergency measures” if any aircraft enters the area without notification or reporting flight plans.

The United States government’s B-52 bombers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam flew across the declared air-defense identification zone without informing China about the flight. According to a U.S. official, the flight was part of a long-planned military exercise and the Chinese military did not attempt to contact the B-52s. “The flight was without incident,” the official said.

Colonel Steve Warren said, “We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus [referring to the Japanese name of the disputed islands]. We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies.”

On the other hand, United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said China’s newly declared identification rule in the disputed island is a “destabilizing attempt to alter status quo in the region.” He added, “This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.”

Japan condemns China, ignores request for flight plans

The Japanese government condemned China’s actions, and disregarded its new policy by ordering commercial planes passing through the disputed zone to ignore its request for flight plans. On Tuesday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said “China’s measures have no validity in our country. We can’t accept a step that imposes unfair obligations on airplanes that fly in the zone set by China.”

On Wednesday, Japan’s Parliament enacted a bill to create a national security council that would provide greater authority to the Prime Minister regarding defense issues.

China monitors U.S. B-52 bombers

China’s Defense Ministry issued a statement indicating that its “air force monitored the entire course [of the U.S. bombers], identified them in a timely way and ascertained the type of U.S. aircraft.”

The Chinese Defense Ministry added, “China will identify all aircraft activity in East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. China has the ability to effectively manage and control the relevant air zone.”