China is launching a rigid aircraft-monitoring system over the East China Sea, incurring the wrath of Japan, because it sees itself as a power equal to the United States, says Peter Brookes, senior fellow of National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.
"We've had one going back to the '50s around the United States. The idea here was to, putting out a buffer zone off your coast to differentiate passenger aircraft from, like, a Soviet bomber," Brookes told "The Steve Malzberg Show" Thursday on Newsmax TV.
"The Chinese feel like we're equals now. The United States and China are equals … It's not a big brother-little brother relationship anymore. And they're throwing their weight around.
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"The problem is as they do this, there could be mis-perceptions, there could be miscalculations which could lead to a crisis and then who know what after that."
Brookes says the ADIZ, which stands for Air Defense Identification Zone, is used by some, but not all countries, to differentiate between military and civilian aircraft.
"The Japanese have one, the South Koreans have one, and it's arbitrary … It's not based on any international law, it's something that a country does for its own national security," he said.
But China's sudden entry into the game is "not only pushing against Japan, it's pushing against us because we have a defense treaty with Japan," he added.
"The Chinese are saying, now you've got to tell us whether you're military or civilian and even if you're not coming into China, even if you're just passing through the zone, you have to file a flight plan with us, then you have to check in with Chinese air traffic control and after that you have to follow any instructions we give you.
"[That] really pushes it to a whole new level … It overlaps the zones claimed by Japan and South Korea making them very unhappy since the Chinese didn't consult with them, didn't talk with them, didn’t try to say, 'OK we'll cut it halfway between our air defense zones."'
Brookes believes China's ADIZ system could create some potentially dangerous confrontations.
"The Chinese said they're going to patrol this with war planes, [so] we could have something like we had in 2001 with the American EP-3E aircraft and the Chinese fighter or God forbid, the KAL-007 in '83? Remember? When the Soviets shot [it] down?
Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor in the Sea of Japan.
The EP-3E incident involved a mid-air collision between a U.S. Navy intelligence plane and a People's Liberation Army Navy fighter jet that sparked an international dispute between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China.
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