When Vice President Joe Biden travels to China, Japan and South Korea next week, it’s hard to see how he can avoid discussion of the newest cause of tensions in the region — China’s creation of a so-called Air Defense Identification Zone over a chain of small islands in the East China Sea claimed by both China and Japan.
China declared the zone on Nov. 23, and said that aircraft flying through the zone must submit advance flight plans to Chinese authorities and follow their instructions or face possible “defensive emergency measures.”
At a time when the U.S. wants to strengthen relations with both Japan and China, the zone creates an unwelcome new headache. The worst-case scenario is that the dispute might lead to military confrontation if China tries to enforce compliance with its rules for the zone.
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