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China Declares Air Defense Zone Over Disputed Islands

China and Japan's dispute over islands in the East China Sea has escalated after China designated a new air defense identification zone over the
Posted at 10:17 AM, Nov 23, 2013

The dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea has escalated again after China designated an air defense identification zone over the contested area. 

China's Defense Ministry released this map detailing the new defense zone. In orange you can see the boundary for China's territorial waters. The red line shows the new defense area, and if you look in the bottom right of that area, you will see it includes the islands in dispute. (Via China Defense Ministry / BBC)

To the Japanese, they are known as the Senkaku. The Chinese call them the Diaoyu, and they have been a major source of tension between Asia's two biggest economies for decades as the island are a rich source of oil, natural gas and fish. (Via AlJazeera)  

The BBC reports China's new air defense zone went into effect at 10 a.m. local time Saturday morning and will require aircraft passing through to: 

- Report a flight plan

- Maintain two-way radio communications 

- Respond to aircraft identification inquiries (Via BBC)

China's new air defense zone overlaps with Japan's previously established air defense zone, which military analysts say could increase the potential for a confrontation between Chinese and Japanese military aircraft operating in the area. 

According to The Wall Street Journal"U.S. officials have said they fear that such a clash ... could escalate into a military confrontation between China and Japan that could also drag in the U.S., which is [obligated] to defend Japan under a six-decade-old security treaty."

Tensions between China and Japan first escalated earlier this month after Japan announced it would shoot down Chinese drones if they flew over the disputed islands, something China said would amount to an "act of war."