This issue of Chinese sovereign jurisdiction assertion into the East China Sea is interesting on numerous levels form UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) angle to the broader significance in terms of U.S. power projection in the Pacific.

The Washington Post reports just now:

"The U.S. military has flown two warplanes over the East China Sea on a training exercise, the Pentagon announced Tuesday, blatantly ignoring a recent edict from China that it must be informed in advance of any such flights over the region."...

Japan and the United States immediately protested the move. The Pentagon, which frequently conducts naval and air exercises in the East China Sea, said it had no intention of bowing to China’s demands, calling them “a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.”

On Tuesday, the White House blasted China’s imposition of the air defense identification zone, but urged Beijing to address territorial conflicts diplomatically instead of militarily."

  Julian Ku, who has been writing the best analyses of the territorial and jurisdicitonal disputes between China and Japan and China and the Philippines write this:

"
Meanwhile, China Draws a Provocative, Dangerous, But Perfectly Legal Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea"

But I did want to note one other big sort-of-law news item from the other side of the world: China’s announcementthat it is drawing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, including over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

China’s announcement has riled up both Japan (which has declared it “totally unacceptable”) and the United States (which has expressed “deep concerns.”)

Why all the fuss? China’s new ADIZ appears to overlap with Japan’s own ADIZ in some crucial places (like the Senkakus/Diaoyu) as well as South Korea’s and Taiwan’s. China has declared that aircraft entering its ADIZ must report flight information to Chinese authorities (actually, its military) and (here’s the scary part), “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.” The U.S. is already hinting that it will test this resolve by flying aircraft through the ADIZ. (Wonder which lucky US pilot draws that mission!)

Although provocative and dangerous, it seem clear to me that China’s ADIZ does not violate international law. Indeed, China’s Foreign Ministry was perfectly correct today in its claim that its ADIZ is consistent with “the U.N. Charter and related state practice.” Countries (led by the U.S.) have long drawn ADIZs beyond their national sovereign airspace as a measure to protect their national airspace. This practice, although not exactly blessed by any treaty, does not appear to violate either the Chicago Convention or UNCLOS. "

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