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(LEAD) White House: No let-up in its defiance of China's air zone

2013/12/06 06:09

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- The White House dismissed a view Thursday that the Obama administration is backing off from its staunch defiance of China's contentious establishment of a new air defense zone in the East China Sea.

"We, the United States, do not recognize it, and we do not accept it, and it will not change how the U.S. conducts military operations in the region," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing.

He described Beijing's announcement as a "provocative unilateral action that raises tensions in one of the world's most geopolitically sensitive areas."

   U.S. officials' public criticism of China's recent move is not new, but Carney's remarks came amid speculation that Washington may be softening its approach toward it.

Speaking to the media at the Pentagon Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the establishment of the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) itself is not a major issue.

"It's not that the ADIZ itself is new or unique," Hagel said. "Our biggest concern is how it was done so unilaterally and so immediately without any consultation, or international consultation. That's not a wise course of action to take for any country."

   In a lengthy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue but some diplomatic sources say Biden might have focused more on mending fences.

Foreign Policy magazine reported the Obama government appears to be changing its course and accepting China's new ADIZ.

The top White House spokesman stressed there is no change in Washington's call for Beijing not to implement the zone.

Biden was very clear in talks with Xi that "China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communication channels, to address the dangers its recent announcement has created and to immediately lower tensions," added Carney.

China caught Japan, South Korea and the U.S. off guard in late November, declaring the creation of the ADIZ over the Senkakus (Diaoyutai) islands controlled by Tokyo and Ieodo, home to Seoul's ocean research center.

China announced that all foreign planes should notify its authorities before entering the zone.

In a show of clear defiance, the U.S. sent two B-52 bombers from Guam to the zone without any notification. South Korea and Japan did not inform China either when they flew military aircraft there.

South Korea's military is reportedly planning to expand its own air defense zone to cover Ieodo.

The Pentagon is in internal discussion on Seoul's move but it would not rush to talk in public about the issue.

"No comment on the Korean ADIZ until they make a formal announcement," a Pentagon official said.

lcd@yna.co.kr

leechidong@gmail.com

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