A report by Thom Shanker of the New York Times, stated that on Tuesday November 26th, two US B-52 aircraft bombers flew over an area that the Chinese government had declared as part of their restricted airspace. This past weekend, the Chinese Government had claimed airspace over sea and islands belonging to Japan, as part of their “air defense identification zone.” China claims that this restricted airspace is needed to protect the sovereignty and people of China. Col. Yang Yujun of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said “China’s armed forces will take defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in identification or refuse to follow orders.”
The United States was conducting a training exercise when the two B-52 aircrafts invaded the restricted airspace. The US claims that the training was planned well before the Chinese made the announcement claiming the airspace this past Saturday. Nonetheless, the US has said that they intend to continue to exercise their rights to fly military training operations through what they consider is still international airspace. Chuck Hagel, the US Defense Secretary, confirmed the position of the United States when he said “this announcement by the People’s Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region.” Given the current tensions between China and Japan, this recent move by China could increase the risk of hostility between China and Japan. The US has expressed its concern to China on how this move could be misunderstood by Japan and lead to bigger military problems in the region.