The U.S. State Department is urging commercial airliners to comply with China's newly declared air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.
Federal Aviation Administration officials are advising U.S. carriers to adhere to restrictions set by Beijing requiring aircrafts entering the airspace to identify themselves and inform the Chinese of their flight plans, or if possible, avoid the zone altogether. (Via WPEC)
According to The Wall Street Journal, the recommendation was made out of "an abundance of caution" and follows the FFA's standard operating procedures regarding these types of airspace.
"But administration officials said this has no effect on the U.S. position that the Chinese defense zone is illegitimate—and wouldn't affect U.S. military flights that are being made into the zone without notice to China."
And CNN reports Japan has told its airlines not to observe China's rules, although a number of Japanese airlines have said they will comply.
The newly declared airspace lies over a group of disputed islands in the region that have been a source of tension between powers in the region for decades.
They are known as the Senkaku to the Japanese and the Diaoyu to the Chinese. Both countries lay claim to the islands, which are a rich source of oil, natural gas and fish. (Via Al Jazeera)
China's establishment of the zone over the territory has angered not only Japan, but also South Korea, Taiwan and even the U.S.
State Department officials denounced the move earlier this week, calling it "an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo" in the region, which could "increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation, and accidents." (Via ABC)
The situation is particularly worrisome for Washington due in part to its current treaty with Japan, which would require the U.S. to defend the country if tensions were to escalate and confrontation occurred.
In an act of defiance earlier this week, the U.S. and Japan flew military aircraft through the region without following China's new restrictions, and Thursday the Chinese government announced it has now dispensed warplanes to monitor the region. (Via CBS)
The U.S. says it isn't taking sides on the question of who the territory belongs to but has repeatedly made clear that its treaty with Japan applies to islands in dispute. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit the region next week, where he is expected to talk with Japanese, South Korean and Chinese officials about the situation.