China has ordered its only aircraft carrier - the P N A S Liaoning - into the Senkaku island chain.
China has ordered its only aircraft carrier - the P N A S Liaoning - into disputed waters in response to the U S Bombers entry into the no-fly zone
THREE days ago China declared a no-fly zone over waters claimed by Japan. Yesterday, the U S flew bombers over them. Today, China has sent in an aircraft carrier. Are these the drums of war on our doorstep?
Late yesterday Australian time, two U S B-52 bombers flew over the Senkaku/Diaoyou island chain in the East China Sea –a deliberately provocative act in response to a freshly declared “air identification zone”.
In response, China has ordered its only aircraft carrier - the P N A S Liaoning - into the disputed waters.
This afternoon, China's defence ministry said it "monitored'' the U S B-52 bomber flights in its newly-declared air defence identification zone
In a statement China's defence spokesman Geng Yansheng said: "The Chinese military monitored the entire process, carried out identification in a timely manner, and ascertained the type of U S aircraft.
"China is capable of exercising effective control over this airspace,'' Geng added.
The statement, China's first official response to the U S action, appeared to be an effort to avoid confrontation while also asserting its authority.
It's a major escalation of tensions over several sets of islands which have been brewing for decades, but has reached boiling point in the past week.
The Chinese navy has announce the aircraft carrier has put to sea from the port of Qingdao with an escort of two destroyers and two frigates. It's destination: "Routine training exercises" that happens to be in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
"Other nations do not need to be alarmed," said Zhang Junshe, an expert with the navy, in an interview with China's English language news agency Xinhua.
What is their significance?
The confrontations have all the “red flags” of impending conflict: Disputed territory. Powerful nations. Bluffs and counter-bluffs. Bravado.
It also has another vital ingredient: Gas.
The dispute over the Senkaku island chain is not new. And it is just one set of islands on the western Pacific Rim over which China and its neighbours have been bickering for decades.
Why? Probably because the adjacent waters contain as-yet untapped oil and gas fields.
Who gets to exploit these resources will be determined by who owns these islands.
On November 23, China threw fuel on the diplomatic fire that has been growing between it and Japan all year. It declared a new “Air Defence Identification Zone” over a broad swathe of the East China Sea. This happens to include the air over the islands Japan considers its own.
Chinese authorities have said any intruding aircraft are subject to "emergency military measures" if they do not identify themselves or obey Beijing's orders