Home » Aviation » PACOM Harris: U.S. Would Ignore A ‘Destabilizing’ Chinese South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone


PACOM Harris: U.S. Would Ignore A ‘Destabilizing’ Chinese South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone

U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris on Feb. 25, 2016 addressing reporters in the Pentagon. DoD News Image

U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris on Feb. 25, 2016 addressing reporters in the Pentagon. DoD News Image

A Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea would ratchet up regional tensions and be ignored by U.S. forces, said the head of the U.S. military forces in the Pacific during a press conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, is concerned Beijing would declare an ADIZ over its disputed holdings like it did over the East China Sea in 2013.

“I’m concerned, in the sense that I would find that destabilizing and provocative,” he said.
“We would ignore it, just like we’ve ignored the ADIZ that they’ve put in place in the East China Sea… Secretary [of State] Kerry asked China to not declare an ADIZ [over the South China Sea].”

In the last several weeks, new satellite imagery has revealed new Chinese military kit on its holdings in the Paracel Islands near Vietnam and artificial islands in the Spratlys close to the Philippines.

“I’m of the opinion they’re militarizing the South China Sea,” Harris said.
“They have reclaimed almost 3,000 acres of military bases in the South China Sea.”

For example HQ-9 anti-air warfare missiles were deployed on Woody Island in the Paracels earlier this month and the Chinese Shenyang J-11 were spotted in the region as recently as this week according to press reports.

A Chinese HQ-9 missile launcher painted in the livery of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). PLAN Photo

A Chinese HQ-9 missile launcher painted in the livery of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). PLAN Photo

 

But a persistent concern behind all of the reclamation, militarization and the rhetoric from Beijing is the possibility of the declaration of a Chinese ADIZ over the South China Sea.

An ADIZ – which are also used by the U.S. – require aircraft in the zone to declare its intentions and identify itself to a national aviation authority.

“International law does not prohibit nations from establishing air defense identification zones (ADIZ) in the international airspace adjacent to their territorial airspace,” the U.S. Navy’s Commander’s Handbook on the law of Naval Operations reads. “The legal basis for ADIZ regulations is the right of a nation to establish reasonable conditions of entry into its territory. Accordingly, an aircraft approaching national airspace can be required to identify itself while in international airspace as a condition of entry approval.”

However, conflicts over territory in the South China Sea where several countries claim the same territory make the declaration of a China ADIZ problematic for regional neighbors.

An ADIZ could pair with expansive territorial claims China has made in the South China Sea to give Beijing more influence in the region that could bleed over to more control of the economic flow through the region.

“When they put their advanced missile systems on the Paracels, and when they build three 10,000 foot runways in the Spratlys on the basis that they’ve reclaimed — when they do all of that, they’re changing the operational landscape in the South China Sea,” Harris said.
“So, that is what’s changed. The United States and our patrols — military patrols, air and maritime in the South China Sea haven’t really changed. We have a consistent presence in the Western Pacific, and we have had that for decades.”

But was is different is how much influence China has over the region, “short of war they can rise to the level of having tactical control of the water ways of the South China Sea.”

A naval soldier of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) views through a pair of binoculars onboard China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it visits a military harbour on the South China Sea. Xinhua Photo

A naval soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) views through a pair of binoculars onboard China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it visits a military harbour on the South China Sea. Xinhua Photo

China quickly responded on Friday to Harris’ statements.

“We have noticed that this official is busy making comments on the South China Sea — sometimes in the U.S. Congress, and sometimes in the Defense Department — which has given us the general impression that he intends to smear China’s legitimate and reasonable actions in the South China Sea and sowing discord,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday.
“He is finding an excuse for U.S. maritime hegemony and muscle-flexing on the sea.”

Earlier this month, China has accused two recent U.S. surface Freedom of Navigation operations (FON ops) in the South China Sea as provocative actions.
“As the world’s largest trade in goods nation and the largest South China Sea littoral state, China cares more about navigation safety and freedom in the South China Sea than any other country,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying earlier this week.
“The United States talks about freedom of navigation, but I fear in its heart what it’s thinking about is absolute maritime hegemony.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi echoed comments, saying, “the demilitarization needs efforts of all parties, not only China, but also the United States and ASEAN countries.”
While Chinese officials comments are rhetorically charged, Hong did say while China reserves the right to declare an ADIZ over the South China Sea, the situation in the region was stable enough not to do so.

During his briefing in the Pentagon, Harris said there’s a chance to give China the benefit of the doubt.

“Let’s give China a chance here and see if they’ll opt for a more stabilizing less tense situation or whether they’ll opt to be a provocative and destabilizing influence,” Harris said.

  • Don Bacon

    A Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea would ratchet up regional tensions? Actually the ADIZ concept was dreamed up by the U.S. to reduce risk.

    An ADIZ is a publicly defined area extending beyond national territory in which unidentified aircraft are liable to be interrogated and, if necessary, intercepted for identification before they cross into sovereign airspace. The concept is a product of the Cold War: in the 1950s, the United States declared the world’s first ADIZs to reduce the risk of a surprise attack from the Soviet Union. Today, the United States has five zones (East Coast, West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam) and operates two more jointly with Canada. Other countries that maintain ADIZs include India, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

    But can China do what the U.S. and others have done? No, says Admiral Harry Harris.

    • muzzleloader

      You gave e very good description of what an ADIZ is, and it’s purpose. What the Chinese are doing is the equivalent of building a gated fence across the sidewalk in front of your house and declaring to the community that they must get permission to use that span of sidewalk every time they pass by. China is a bellicose bully that is using the tactic I describe to abrogate power and control. The south China sea is a world recognized sea lane. The Chinese have no right to claim it as their own. They need to be put in their place.

      • Filmar

        China will be put in their place, that day is coming however it will not just be the USA doing it, it will be a combination of many countries.

        • FedUpWithWelfareStates

          …but NOT the Cowardly Philippines, who will hide behind Uncle Sam’s skirts, waiting for the dust to settle, then jump out, declaring “We Won!”

          • Filmar

            Wont matter, either way China will loose.

          • jimfact

            What is being said about China today reminds me of what was said about the USSR during the ‘red dawn’ days and proven completely false whenever US military men and technology had a chance to fight Soviet weapons. When US leaders said Japan was taking us over financially and buying our country. Neither was true but it did motivate some to good effect. As of today, that is exactly what is going on. The US wouldn’t even have to send troops to China’s mainland. China has enough neighbors and disenfranchised Generals on their continent that we would need to tell them when to start tearing her apart. Obama won’t be the leader to motivate our people but I hope our next president will pick up the mantle of Reagan and put this new threat, real or imagined, to rest.

          • Filmar

            If I had to bet I would say the next USA president will be Trump which is going to be good news for the USA military….and very, very bad news for China. Neither China or Russia will mess with him because they know very well what will happen if they do.

          • Andy Wang

            Yea, Armagedom and we all die.

          • Filmar

            No we wont, China might, but we wont.

          • Andy Wang

            That is purely wishful thinking. I think the ratio is 3 russian nukes for every US one. This is before adding China’s arsenal.

          • Filmar

            Too bad nukes are old technology the USA has something much better now, I suspect China will get to see just what that is one day. As far as Russia goes they will do nothing as always knowing they would be destroyed as well. Trump to the rescue, enjoy.

          • Andy Wang

            I disagree that there are many disenfranchised generals, only the corrupt ones whose ill gotten gains are finally being investigated.

            I don’t thiink Trump is the man but he will probably win. He is no Ronald Reagan.

          • Andy Wang

            Its lose, not loose.

          • life form

            It’s “It’s” not “Its”. There is an “its”, but that is the possessive of “it”.
            “It’s” is the contraction of “it is”.
            And for once, I agree with you: the “lose” “loose” conflation hurts my eyes every time i see it. However, given the sounds involved, confusion is understandable.

          • jimfact

            100% agree, after they heroically helped the US in Korea and Vietnam they have fallen to third world status from leading ASEAN growth when they had a ‘dictator’. You should consider changing your name to ‘FedUpWithWelfareNations.

          • Bogs

            Uncle Sam created that dictator .check your facts.

          • Bogs

            Uncle Sam invited himself in the Philippnes to protect His own interest check back yout history.

          • Andy Wang

            Agree.

          • Fred G.

            You need to review the HISTORY and the relationship of the U.S. and the Philippines why they are hiding with Uncle Sam’s skirts.

          • life form

            Oh, I don’t know about that. i wouldn’t call them cowardly. They don’t have much of a military, or much wealth, but they’ll still stand up to the CCP.

            They deserve the help they’re getting with training and inter-operability. And in return the PH shares their location and resources and manpower. And the US probably still owes them for past sins.

            So the PH US alliance seems OK to me. What say you Filipinos, do you agree?

          • maximus

            As history unfold during World War and Gen. Mc Arthur once said and i quote “Give me ten thousand Filipino soldiers and I will conquer the world.” I think Gen. Mc Arthur statement is more credible than yours.

          • Andy Wang

            So true.

        • Andy Wang

          No one can beat a combined Chinese and Russian defense pact.

          • Filmar

            LMAO Russians will never die for the Chinese. Just ask any of them. Oh and Russia likes to make defense pacts and then stand by and watch when the country they make them with gets attacked. Just ask Vietnam….Chinas time is running out and the clock is ticking…..

        • Andy Wang

          Has China initiated any wars since its rise in power since the 1980s? No. But the US has, many times. The phobia of the spread of communism, created the cold war with Russia, the Korean war and then Vietnam. Then we has the Iraq war and the invasion of Afganistan. Even the UK has – the Falklands. So who has the track record of aggression who should be put in its place. Do you really think the Vietmanese will die to back the US. I doubt it. The US killed and destroyed too much if Vietnam. Has China blocked the trade routes, no.

          • Filmar

            The USA did it so I can do it too?? What are you 5 years old??? Anyway sit back and enjoy the show, one way or another China is going to get what is coming to it. Trump to the rescue…..

      • Don Bacon

        Your description is different than mine, and incorrect. The ADIZ is for identification not exclusion. The latter doesn’t require an ADIZ. Are all the other ADIZs in the world “the equivalent of building a gated fence across the sidewalk?” — No.

        • CharleyA

          China is already telling US aircraft to leave the area surrounding one of their “peaceful” reclamation projects even before an ADIZ has been declared – an area that happens to be international airspace. China’s intentions seem clear to just about everyone in the region. Their concept of an ADIZ is exclusion.

      • Andy Wang

        So does the US

    • rotary_rasp

      China has no claims for an ADIZ.
      China has no sovereign territories in the SCS! SCS is still International territories.

      Therefore, no ADIZ enforced by China will be respected.

    • ChopperPilot

      With one glaringly obvious distinction: Other ADIZ (such as those used by the US) make requirements of aircraft actually heading to those countries. The ADIZ that the PRC declared in the East China Sea requires any aircraft passing through them regardless of destination.

      Of course, the PRC doesn’t actually have any authority to dictate such rules in international airspace.

      • Don Bacon

        Destinations can be doctored, so that’s no factor.
        China enjoys sovereignty over those islands so it has the authority.
        And if they don’t have the authority then why is Admiral Harris bothered by it enough to make it an issue? Doesn’t he have better things to do?

        • ChopperPilot

          “Destinations can be doctored, so that’s no factor. ”

          Um, China has radar good enough to figure out if you decide to fly into a Chinese airport without authorization.

          “China enjoys sovereignty over those islands so it has the authority.”

          That’s nonsensical. Even if they had an undisputed sovereignty to a place (which, in this case they certainly do not), it wouldn’t magically grant them sovereignty over airspace a hundred miles away.

          “And if they don’t have the authority then why is Admiral Harris bothered by it enough to make it an issue? Doesn’t he have better things to do?”
          That’s the whole point. If they had the authority, it wouldn’t BE an issue. That they repeatedly try to enact Chinese law beyond Chinese territory is an issue of justifiable concern

        • Andy Wang

          A US lapdog.

          • life form

            No, no. A US citizen. See, he has a Bill of Rights and a vote.

            It’s “US citizen” (Bill of Rights, free political speech, a vote, private property rights and free press of books, print mags, internet, and reproduction.)

            …and “CCP lapdog” (null and void Chinese Constitution, no vote, no free political speech, state licensing of children, scrubbed internet, banned books)

            …now you can see the difference…

    • Ctrot

      Apparently you missed the key sentence explaining why your claims are wrong.

      “However, conflicts over territory in the South China Sea where several countries claim the same territory make the declaration of a China ADIZ problematic for regional neighbors.”

      • publius_maximus_III

        Deleted by me

    • USofA

      But neither Canada nor Mexico currently feel encroached upon or bullied in the way that many of the countries surrounding China do, and regards to their ADIZ over lapping others territory, and the ADIZ of other nations that have been in place for over 3 decades & include disputed territory. And lastly, there is no contested territory in our ADIZ in the USA.

      Nor do US strategic considerations threaten the free flow of international trade and shipping. China’s certainly could.

      • Peter_T

        You realize that out of the trillions of international trade and shipping passing through South China Sea, 70% of them went to China? So why would china try to impinge on international trade and shipping there? China could but won’t just like USA could but won’t as well.

        • USofA

          Maybe you missed my point, outside nations are the major stake holders in the SCS, as it is THEIR product going to China, NOT CHINA’S. China is merely assembling the finished good, and shipping back to host nation. Where do you get your statistics from?

    • Andy Wang

      Because he is half japanese and knows that China will get there sweet revenge down the track. How many Chinese did the japs kill in WW2?

      • life form

        ‘their”, not “there”

  • G Man

    China cannot fool the world this time. 
    China doesn’t own the South China sea and building those 7 fake islands doesn’t prove that China owns the South China sea. 
    China’s actions in South china sea contested were in serious provocation, unlawful, and irresponsible. 
    China is a master of DOUBLE TALKING. The world should not trust and believe on any of China’s good words.
    China always saying that the construction work in seven fake islands were purely for civilian use but now the world is seeing its true intention in South china sea. 
    The true intention of China is to militarize and control the South China sea.
    China is “clearly militarizing the South China Sea … 
    China was “changing the operational landscape” in the South China Sea by deploying missiles and radar as part of an effort to militarily dominate East Asia.

    The US and the world must stop buying and patronizing Chinese products or any items made in China. They are using their profit to improve their military and, bully and scare the international community with their military power. 
    BOYCOTT CHINESE PRODUCTS !!!

    South china sea must govern by laws not China’s might
    China is just a bully, greedy, selfish and deceitful country.

    • Banlas

      I will need to respond to the last paragraph.

      U.S is not only a troublemaker but a cold-blooded animal who deserves to rot in h e ll for killing hundreds of millions of people around the world from this century until now.

      • muzzleloader

        We had to get one lefty loonie on this thread.

        • andy

          Why a lefty looney? More like a righty nutter , after all trump is a great example:)

          • publius_maximus_III

            Trump is a snake oil salesman, not a righty. He’s making the greatest “deal” of his life as we speak.

      • life form

        Please. The CCP killed more of her own people in 70 years than the US has killed in her whole history. Including slavery, the US civil war, the Indian wars, WW 1, WW2, Vietnam and Korea.

        • Andy Wang

          China did not murder its own people. They were just inept as a government in the early years of communism. People starved, there was famin, corruption. Not so these days. China can build massive infrastructure projects in a quarter of the time it takes most western countries.

          • life form

            According to Chinese scholars 32 million people starved because as the Great Leap was executed, the CCP deliberately took the country people’s farms and food, even their metal. Those 32 million died as a direct result of this action.

            One might be able to argue “unintended consequences” at the beginning of the Great Famine, but as it went on, it was accepted as necessary policy. And then the CCP’s Cultural Revolution killed 4 million more to enable the CCP to hang on to power.

            “They were just inept as a government in the early years of communism.” doesn’t accurately characterize this deliberate policy that resulted in the biggest famine in known history.
            My post is accurate.

            (Sure China is better governed now. There is a huge new middle class, that’s certainly true. And China can complete large projects swiftly, though the environmental consequences have been profoundly deleterious, and quality often suffers.

            But totalitarian censorship, no vote, and land seizing still remain. So do rigged courts, corruption and the exclusion of all “loyal opposition” type political speech. The Chinese Constitution is still a cold joke on her people. Mentioning this will still get you scrubbed, and perhaps invited to tea.)

    • Andy Wang

      G Man, is the US very protective about its east and west coast, even when other countries are in international waters practising freedom of navigation. How would the US feel if China visited cuba and leased its ports?

      Well the South China Seas is bloody close to China and far, far away from the US west coast. Sorry, but the US is trying to pick a fight and China is perceived to be a weaaker target than Russia. One could say the US is a racist, bully, selfish and deceitful country. In fact, some of China’s Asean neighbours are cheap judases who rather be the westerners’ slave.

      • G Man

        I can smell a Chinese person with a fake name here.
        Your mindset really shows how China controlled and twisted your brain since you were born in China. You will never get the true story in South china sea because China as a communist country has a solid control of their news and people like you. If you were born and raised in China, all you can read were filtered and edited by your Government, even the textbook in your school. 
        It is not about who is closer to the South China sea contested area, it is about how China’s claims in the SCS contested area based on a bogus historical values. It is purely a land grab from smaller Asian countries. And, building Fake islands near or in the INTERNATIONAL SEA LANE with a purpose of militarizing it.
        China has a thousands of years of Deceitful and Fabrications of history which China obviously end up creating bogus claims in South china sea contested area based on the nine dashline map created by its own people from ROC Koumintang . China is so greedy that it has drawn a map too close to other countries.The world especially the US and Australia must not give way to China’s dangerous and serious provocation in South china sea contested area and International sea lane. 
        The truth will prevail in SCS.
        South china sea must govern by laws not China’s might.
        China is just a bully, greedy, selfish and deceitful country.

  • Don Bacon

    from the article:
    — the head of the U.S. military forces in the Pacific
    –Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command
    — We have a consistent presence in the Western Pacific
    –A Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea
    — 3,000 acres of military bases in the South China Sea

    The South China Sea (obviously) isn’t in the Pacific, nor the Western Pacific, in fact it is about 2,000 miles away, with the Philippine Sea intervening. The South China Sea is just south of China (obviously).

  • jeffrey

    Well, you could blame the singapore government for informing the Chinese authorities on how they won the Pedra Branca case in the international Court of J7stice. Essentially, “possession is 9/10th the rule”. So, China’s claim now includes rhetoric as well as possession.

  • jeffrey

    Under internal laws, possession is 9/10th the rule; this iscachieved when you administer to the territory and impliment your rule. Singapore taught China that. And singapore’s economy is dependant on it having a government that is pro- China.
    Even transferring of US weapons technology through conscription that now requires permanent residents to register their sons to enlist for “national service” in branches of army, air force and navy.

    • life form

      Meaningless. What does “under internal laws” mean to the international law of the sea? Nothing. What does “under internal laws, possession is 9/10 the rule” mean? Nothing, you just made that up.

  • Marjus

    The Chinese and their party armed office the PLA refer to Adm. Harris as an official. As if he is some policymaker. Of course they would think that not having a professional military. But before Obama and Kerry can swoop in and apologize, he, as Pacific Comm Commander will be the one in their faces ready to throw it down if need be. So I think the Chinese should take a little more heed of what he has to say.

    • Andy Wang

      Why? His position is clear so why mediate when he has no interest to do so.

      • life form

        What Marjus is saying is that we have a military that is entirely under the control of elected civilian officials. The Admiral does not make policy. The elected civilians determine policy.

        The Admiral is responsible for readiness, and carrying out a policy, even a war, if he is ordered to do so. But only if he is ordered to do so by his commander in chief, (the elected president), and )the elected) congress.

  • andy

    This is how all madmen start. Whether its republicans who lie about everything or a crazy psycho from Germany all them years ago, lunatic ideologies and the people who front them must be stopped, the earlier the better…that much history has taught us.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Give ’em ‘ell, Harry!

    The building of all these stationary aircraft carriers by the PLAN in the SCS can have no other purpose than to harass all comers, despite international law. If a conflict breaks out, it will be an incident at one of these built-up reefs.

  • John B. Morgen

    The United States should or must view China as a nation-state with hostile intent of making the South China Sea into a Chinese pond. The United States needs to make clear statements or political declarations that the South China Sea is [not] the property of China, or anyone else. The United States needs to establish naval/air bases in the region, conduct more “showing the flag” visits. A show of naval resolve might be required, If China decides to take armed provocative action against the United States’ interests in the region. In other words, the gloves are off if China takes military action against American warships or aircraft that are in transiting through the South China Sea.

    • Andy Wang

      This will fastrack war. Can the US afford it?

      • John B. Morgen

        The United States has to afford it, if we want free trade in the region because we have have done it before during the late 1930’s when Japan was taking provocative steps in China. The United States took corrective action against Japan, which ended up by destroying the Imperial Japan. We will protect our trade interest in Asia because in this case, the tables are turning against China.

  • Secundius

    the Archipelago Islands Chain that Comprises Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Are STILL under the Protectorate Jurisdiction of the United States. ISN’T it in OUR INTEREST to Utilize Their Locations to OUR Benefit. Before the PRC, try a Land Grab on THEM TOO…

    • Andy Wang

      More prizes for the winner in WW2. Give them back Barrick!

      • Secundius

        What IF “Said” Inhabitant’s DON’T WANT TO GO “BACK”?