BEIJING - China has established its first air defense identification zone in accordance with Chinese law and international practices to safeguard its sovereignty, the Ministry of National Defense announced on Saturday.
The move allows early-warning time and helps China protect its sovereignty and territories, and guarantee regional air security, officials and analysts said.
An air defense identification zone is a defensive area of airspace established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace, explained Wang Ji, a Chinese expert on domestic and international law from an institution affiliated with China's air force.
It is used to identify, monitor, control and react in a timely manner to aircraft entering this zone that are potential air threats, Wang said.
The East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone includes the airspace within the area enclosed by the outer limit of China's territorial waters and six other points.
People's Liberation Army air force spokesman Shen Jinke said two scouting planes have completed the zone's first patrol with the support of surveillance and fighters.
The military is capable of effectively controlling the zone, Shen said. It will not influence international airlines' flights, he said.
The zone was created to safeguard China' sovereignty, territory and security while maintaining flight order, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said.
"This is a necessary measure China has taken to exercise its right to self-defense," Yang said.
"It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the freedom of flights in the airspace."
He emphasized China has always respected the freedom of flights in accordance with international law. The zone's establishment does not change the legal nature of the related airspace, and normal flights by international airlines will not be affected.
"The zone's founding has adequate legal basis," Wang said.
"China's domestic laws and regulations, such as the Law of the PRC on National Defense, the Law of PRC on Civil Aviation and Basic Rules on Flight, also clearly stipulate the maintenance of territorial land, air security and flight order."
It is also in line with the United Nations Charter to exercise the right to self-defense, he added.
Naval Military Academic Institute researcher Zhang Junshe said: "The zone shows China's resolve and determination to defend its national sovereignty. It can also help maintain flight security in the region and avoid air accidents. It is in accordance with current international practice."