A senior Chinese military official says that China could establish an air defense zone over the disputed areas of the South China Sea if it believed it was warranted due to a major threat.
Deputy Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Adm. Sun Jianguo said at a regional security forum in Singapore on Sunday that Beijing’s decision to set up a so-called air defense identification zone would be based on an aerial threat assessment as well as the naval security situation in the area, adding that other nations should not create a hype over the issue.
China’s potential establishment of an air defense zone would be fiercely challenged by the United States and Southeast Asian nations since they maintain that such a zone would further solidify China’s military presence in the disputed waters.
In recent weeks, the United States has criticized China for what it refers to as island-building and land reclamation efforts in the disputed region, where China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have competing claims.
In his address to the security conference, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter repeated an earlier demand for China and other nations to halt such efforts.
Admiral Sun emphasized during the Sunday forum, “China and the Chinese military have never feared the devil or an evil force, and we are convinced by reason but not by hegemony.”
“Don’t ever expect us to surrender to devious heresies or a mighty power. And don’t ever expect us to swallow the bitter fruits that would harm our sovereignty, security and development interests,” he added.
The Chinese official further underlined that Washington was guilty of hypocrisy, since it had censured China’s military deployment on the islands while its own officials had announced plans to deploy weapons of their own to bear on the regional situation.
China has maintained that its right to construction is based on its understanding that the territory belongs to China.
Admiral Sun also said on Sunday that China remained committed to resolving the disputes with its neighbors through negotiations.