WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — China’s imposition of an air defense zone over the disputed South China Sea in the future would be “destabilizing and provocative,” and will be ignored by the United States, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific warned on Thursday.
“With regard to ADIZ, or air defense identification zone, I am concerned about the possibility that China might declare an ADIZ,” Adm. Harry Harris told reporters at the Pentagon.
“I would find that to be destabilizing and provocative,” he said. “We would ignore it, just as we did with the ADIZ they put in place in the East China Sea.”
Harris said concerns about a new Chinese air defense zone over the South China Sea were raised by Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged China not to impose such a measure. Kerry held talks this week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“So let’s give China a chance here and see if they’ll opt for a more stabilizing, less tense situation, or whether they’ll opt to be a provocative, destabilizing influence in the region,” Harris said.
Defense officials said the recent introduction of advanced HQ-9 air defense missiles on Woody Island in the Paracels, along with the arrival of a small number of J-11 and JH-7 jet fighters, along with the construction of a large radar in the region, have all stoked concerns that China is preparing to declare the air defense zone.
Harris said Chinese military bases in the sea could be removed militarily but that is an option of last resort.