South China Sea: China may establish air defense zone after losing court ruling
Beijing (CNN)China said Wednesday it has the right to set up an air defense zone in the hotly disputed South China Sea, a day after a landmark court ruling against Beijing’s claims in the contested waters.
Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice foreign minister, told a press conference in Beijing that China’s sovereignty over the bulk of the South China Sea wouldn’t be affected by a decision by the International Court for Arbitration, which went overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines.
Liu said imposing an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the region, which would require aircraft flying over the waters to first notify China, would depend on the threat level China faced.
“If our security is threatened, we of course have the right to set it up,” Liu said.
China set up an ADIZ over the East China Sea in 2013, prompting an outcry from Japan and the United States, but the zone has not been fully enforced.
This is the first time an international court has ruled on region’s mess of competing claims and Tuesday’s decision could ratchet up friction in the region, where $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes through annually.
Liu said that China hoped the Philippine government would see the ruling as “a piece of scrap paper” and called for bilateral negotiations to resume over the issue.
The court concluded that China’s historical claims to the sea weren’t legally valid. It also said China had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by endangering its ships, damaging the marine environment and building on islands and reefs.
Beijing’s ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday the ruling would “intensify conflict and even confrontation.”
It was welcomed by the Philippines, the United States and other countries in the region, which called on China to abide by the decision.