This post contains raw text of policy-relevant statements by the U.S. government about the Chinese air defense identification zone announcement in late November. The statements are
edited excerpted by me and have been compiled from numerous sources.
Secretary of State John Kerry
“This unilateral action constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. Escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.
“Freedom of overflight and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace are essential to prosperity, stability, and security in the Pacific. We don’t support efforts by any State to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter its national airspace. The United States does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. national airspace.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
“We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region. This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.
“This announcement by the People’s Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region. …
“We remain steadfast in our commitments to our allies and partners. The United States reaffirms its longstanding policy that Article V of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands.”
Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
“[W]e believe that this announcement from the Chinese government was unnecessarily inflammatory. There are regional disputes in that part of the world, and those are disputes that should be resolved diplomatically. And there should be, in this case, plenty of overlapping common ground to reach a situation — or reach a resolution that doesn’t involve inflammatory, escalating rhetoric or policy pronouncements by any side. And that’s how we hope that this situation will be resolved.”
Officials speaking to press describe intention behind B-52 flight
(Washington Post) U.S. military officials said they deployed two unarmed B-52 bombers late Monday over a small island chain that China and Japan both claim as their territory. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a military spokesman, described the flights as “uneventful” and said they were part of a previously scheduled training mission. He said there was “no contact, no reaction from China.”
Pentagon officials said the flights were intended to send a clear message to Beijing that Washington would not permit China to restrict freedom of movement in international airspace or waterways. In addition to its dispute with Japan, China is engaged in spats with other U.S. allies in Asia, fueling political tension as all sides vie for strategically important territory.
White House (Earnest)
“[T]he policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory and has a destabilizing impact on the region, when the fact of the matter is these are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically.”
“[I]nflammatory rhetoric and inflammatory policy pronouncements like those made by the Chinese over the weekend are counterproductive, and we believe that those differences of opinion can and should be resolved diplomatically.”
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki
“[W]e don’t support efforts by any state to apply its air defense identification zone procedures to foreign aircrafts not intending to enter its national airspace.
White House (Senior Administration Officials on Biden trip)
“But clearly the visit to China creates an opportunity for the Vice President to discuss directly with policymakers in Beijing this issue to convey our concerns directly and to seek clarity regarding the Chinese intentions in making this move at this time.
“It also allows the Vice President I think to make the broader point that there is an emerging pattern of behavior by China that is unsettling to China’s own neighbors, and raising questions about how China operates in international space and how China deals with areas of disagreement with its neighbors.
“But at the same time, to put it in perspective, the Vice President of the United States is not traveling to Beijing to deliver a demarché, let alone on a single issue. He’s going to have a very high-level and a very wide-ranging dialogue with senior Chinese leadership that covers a wide range of shared interests, along with areas of concern, areas of cooperation, and areas of de-confliction.”
“So in the first instance there is a need for China to clarify its intentions, to answer a number of questions that this move generates, both as a civil aviation matter, but also as a strategic matter”
“[T]he underlying point here is that the strains caused by a series of actions by China in its relations with its Asian neighbors is not a good thing. It’s not a good thing for the United States, it’s not a good thing for anyone.”
“We have real concerns with this move by the Chinese because it raises serious questions about their intentions. It causes friction and uncertainty. It constitutes a unilateral change to the status quo in the region, a region that’s already fraught. And it increases the risk of miscalculation and the risk of accidents.”
Department of Defense Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog (Readout of Sec. Hagel call with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera)
“Secretary Hagel conveyed that the announcement by the People’s Republic of China establishing the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone” is a potentially destabilizing unilateral action designed to change the status quo in the region, and raises the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation.
“Secretary Hagel commended the Japanese government for exercising appropriate restraint in the wake of this announcement. Secretary Hagel assured Minister Onodera that U.S. military operations will not in any way change as a result of China’s announcement, noting that recent routine and long-planned U.S. flight operations have already occurred as normal following the announcement.
“Secretary Hagel reaffirmed longstanding U.S. policy that Article V of the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands, and pledged to consult closely with Japan on efforts to avoid unintended incidents.”
State Department (Psaki)
“We’re attempting to determine whether the new rules apply to civil aviation, commercial air flight. In the meantime, U.S. air carriers are being advised to take all steps they consider necessary to operate safely in the East China Sea region.”
QUESTION: So your advice is that U.S. airlines should operate – do what they think is necessary to operate safely?
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: Which would suggest that they should, in that case, be telling the Chinese authorities of their flight plans.
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t go that far. We’re still looking at it. Obviously, we’re in touch as is needed, but I don’t have any other further analysis on it.
“We’ve expressed publicly and privately our concerns, and we have urged and continue to urge Chinese to exercise – the Chinese to exercise caution and restraint.”
State Dept (unnamed spokesperson)
Question: Is there any specific guidance or information we are giving to U.S. carriers operating in China’s recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)?
Answer: Freedom of overflight and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace are essential to prosperity, stability, and security in the Pacific. We remain deeply concerned by China’s November 23 declaration of an “East China Sea Air Identification Zone.”
The U.S. government generally expects that U.S. carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) issued by foreign countries. Our expectation of operations by U.S. carriers consistent with NOTAMs does not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirements for operating in the newly declared ADIZ.
White House Spokesperson Jay Carney
“We do not accept the legitimacy of China’s requirements for operating in the newly declared ADIZ. And the fact that China’s announcement has caused confusion and increased the risk of accidents only further underscores the validity of our concerns and the need for China to rescind the procedures.
“As we have repeatedly said and our actions have demonstrated, we believe that these kinds of provocations create risk of miscalculation, and we don’t accept the legitimacy of what China announced.”
“For safety and security of passengers, U.S. carriers operating internationally operate consistent with notices to airmen issued by foreign countries. However — and let me be clear — this in no way indicates U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirement in the newly declared ADIZ, and has absolutely no bearing on the firm and consistent U.S. government position that we do not accept the legitimacy of China’s requirements. This is about the safety and security of passengers; it is not an indication of any change in our position. We do not accept the legitimacy of China’s requirements.”
State Department (Psaki)
“[T]he State Department is not the point of contact with airlines. The FAA is the point of contact with airlines. There has not been any information that has been put out or confirmed that I am aware of that has conveyed what has or has not been communicated in that capacity to airlines.
“There is – for safety and security of passengers, U.S. carriers operate internationally – operate consistently as a process with the notices to airmen issued by foreign countries, as is the case in this case. Their concerns are about the safety and security of passengers. That is different from what the U.S. Government policy is. It is not – this is in no way indicates U.S. Government acceptance of China’s requirements in the newly declared ADIZ and has absolutely no bearing on the firm and consistent U.S. Government position that we do not accept the legitimacy of China’s requirements.
“This is a case where China announced this in an uncoordinated fashion. It’s inconsistent with standard practice. And their requirements for operating exceed internationally accepted practice in this capacity.”
“Evidence of the fact that the U.S. Government does not accept China’s requirement is by the fact that the announcement will not change how the United States conducts military operations in the region, which is something DOD announced last week. And that is certainly a U.S. Government decision to make.”
“[O]ur general position as a U.S. Government is that we don’t accept China’s requirements. And obviously, the military – actions of military exercises is evidence of that.”
“As I mentioned, we – the fact that China’s announcement has caused confusion and increased the risk of accidents only further underscores the validity of concerns and the need for China to rescind the procedures. It’s consistently been our position and one we have communicated both publicly and privately.”
“I’ve just consistently said that we believe they should rescind the procedures. I’ve just – I’ve also stated a couple of times that we don’t accept China’s requirements. So I think I’ve made that pretty clear.”
Senior Administration Officials traveling with Biden
Q Can you help us understand I think this sense of a disconnect between the Japanese and the U.S. on the FAA’s ruling for American airliners? Did you sense in your meeting with Mr. Aso that the Japanese are somewhat — that there was a need for some clarity of where the U.S. is on this? And in hindsight, could the thing have been handled in a way where there was less confusion around it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So let me just start by saying that there wasn’t a ruling by the FAA on this issue. In fact, contrary to reports, the FAA didn’t issue guidance with regard to the Chinese NOTAM, the notice to airmen. What the FAA has done is simply reiterate longstanding practice that for the safety and security of passengers, U.S. civilian aircraft operate consistent with NOTAMs the world over.
In terms of the U.S.-Japan position on the ADIZ, there is fundamentally no daylight between us. Nothing that the FAA has done constitutes any kind of acceptance or recognition of this. And the United States has clearly set forth that our military aircraft will continue to operate normally without regard to the ADIZ. So the U.S. government position on this and the Japanese government position on the ADIZ are the same insofar as we see this as a provocative and unilateral effort to change the status quo
“What the FAA has done here is simply reiterate the longstanding practice that the safety and security of U.S. passengers on — and all passengers on U.S. civilian aircraft operating internationally operate consistent with NOTAMs, respond to NOTAMs. That is the guidance that — not the guidance; that is the practice or the policy that the FAA has the world over. There’s nothing specific to this ADIZ.
“There’s no guidance with respect to this announcement. It is merely a statement of FAA policy with respect to NOTAMs anywhere in the world, in any region — in Europe, in Africa, in Asia — that U.S. carriers operate consistent with these NOTAMs.”
“[T]he two things that we all — we are calling on China to do is exercise restraint in terms of further provocative actions, including how it implements its ADIZ procedures, to avoid increasing tensions or any acts that would raise the risk of miscalculation. In addition, we’re also calling on China to avoid any further destabilizing actions such as creating a new ADIZ over contested territory without any kind of prior consultation with other potentially affected parties.”
Vice President Biden’s remarks with Prime Minister Abe
“We, the United States, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea. This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation”
“This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms and effective channels of communication between China and Japan to reduce the risk of escalation.
“I’ll be raising these concerns with great specificity directly when I meet with Chinese leadership the day after tomorrow.”
White House (Carney)
“Contrary to prior reporting, the FAA did not issue guidance to U.S. carriers with regard to the specific Chinese notice to airmen. It has, however, reiterated longstanding practice and policy that for the safety and security of passengers on commercial airlines, U.S. civilian aircraft flying internationally operate consistent with notices to airmen issued by foreign countries.
“As we have said, and I said yesterday, the U.S. government does not accept or recognize China’s newly declared ADIZ. Indeed, U.S. military aircraft have been instructed to continue to operate normally in the area in line with U.S. government policy.”
“The United States urges China not to implement the ADIZ, to refrain from taking similar actions elsewhere in the region, and to work with other countries, including Japan and North Korea — or rather, Japan and South Korea — to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels, to address the dangers its recent announcement has created and to lower tensions.”
State Department (Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf)
“We’ve been very clear that we’ve called on China not to implement the ADIZ, and we’ll continue to do so.”
QUESTION: And so asking them not to implement this ADIZ, are you saying that you want them to roll back to November 23rd, to the status quo, in other words?
MS. HARF: Again, our position on this is that we do not want them to implement the ADIZ. We also don’t want them to take any further provocative or destabilizing actions that attempt to alter the status quo in the region, including creating new ADIZs over contested or otherwise sensitive territory administered – excuse me, administrated – I’m not sure what the word I’m looking for is – by other countries.
“We’ve been clear that this type of provocative behavior is inconsistent with the actions of a major power that upholds international norms and promotes peace and stability”
QUESTION: They also insist that they have not changed the status quo as persons in this building and other buildings here in the Administration have said since last Monday. What is your reaction to that?
MS. HARF: Well, again, I’m not going to sort of do a tit-for-tat with what they’re saying in the press. We’ve said that by establishing this new ADIZ, that it appears to be an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo. That is our view. We’ve made that clear.
QUESTION: So if that – does it mean China doesn’t need to rescind the ADIZ itself?
MS. HARF: I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Oh, I —
MS. HARF: We’ve been clear that they should not implement the ADIZ and not take any further provocative actions, period. Our position on that hasn’t changed. We’ll be having these discussions with them. We are having them now, and we’ll continue to have them going forward.
QUESTION: So in this case, what is appropriate procedure for China?
MS. HARF: In terms of what specifically?
QUESTION: Jen also – Jen and Mr. Carney also announced that China needs to rescind the procedure, so – which means the Chinese procedure is not appropriate. So what is appropriate procedure?
MS. HARF: Well, for example, we’ve said that China’s announcement includes a list of requirements which appear to be preconditions for entry into its ADIZ. This is not consistent with international aviation practice, nor consistent with international norms respecting navigational freedoms. So that’s one example of a reason we think we don’t recognize the ADIZ and don’t believe that it should be implemented. That’s just, practically speaking, one way that we – one example of how we don’t think that it should be implemented.
“We don’t believe – we don’t recognize it, we don’t believe that it should be implemented. So our position hasn’t changed on that, and I’m not just going to get two steps ahead of the process.”
“[T]hroughout all of our engagements with China on this issue, we’ve made it clear that the U.S. will not recognize the ADIZ, that the Chinese should not implement the ADIZ, and should not take action against aircraft that do not identify themselves if they’re entering the ADIZ.”
“It’s not consistent with international aviation practice or international norms respecting navigational freedoms. I’m not sure how much more clear that can be.”
Secretary of Defense Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey
SEC. HAGEL: Well, I think that we’ve made it pretty clear what our position is, the United States, on — on this. And it’s not that the ADIZ itself is new or unique. The biggest concern that we have 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.
GEN. DEMPSEY: I have actually reached out to the schedulers to connect me with my Chinese counterpart. I suspect that will occur following the vice president’s visit.
I think it’s probably worth noting that the — we’re not talking about sovereign airspace. We’re talking about international airspace adjacent to sovereign airspace. And as you know, the international norm — I think as you know, the international norm is that entering an ADIZ, you would only report if you intended to enter the sovereign airspace of the country that declared the ADIZ.
So it wasn’t the declaration of the ADIZ that actually was destabilizing. It was their assertion that they would cause all aircraft entering the ADIZ to report regardless of whether they were intending to enter into the sovereign airspace of China. And that is destabilizing.
State Department (Harf)
“[W]e’ve been very clear what our policy is – that we don’t recognize the newly announced ADIZ, that we have called on China not to implement it. We’ve made that clear very publicly and will continue to do so.”
“And whether that means having to file flight plans with the Chinese Government, which, as I said, deviates significantly from ICAO procedures, also the reference to use of, quote, “defensive emergency measures should aircraft fail to comply,” has been perceived by many as provocative. So we just don’t want them to implement what the – everything under this new ADIZ going forward.”
QUESTION: Because the reason I ask is – I mean, I think there were some reports that Vice President Biden used the word “rescind”, and whether there’s any kind of meaningful distinction to —
MS. HARF: There’s no policy difference, no. The policy hasn’t changed from the beginning to now, that we don’t believe that the Chinese should implement the new ADIZ.
QUESTION: Along those lines, I asked you yesterday what exactly was inconsistent in the —
MS. HARF: Well, one example is the requirement to file a flight plan with the Chinese Government, which deviates significantly from the ICAO procedures which outline these regulations for international flights, is my understanding.
Biden at AmCham Beijing
“We need to keep building practical cooperation and manage areas where we do not see eye-to-eye. Everybody focuses on where we disagree with the Chinese. We disagree with our allies in other parts of the world. But China’s recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region.
“And I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi. But I also put this in a broader context. The Asia Pacific region will be the driver of the global economy, to repeat myself, in the 21st century, and as China’s economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continue to grow as well because it has so much more to lose. That’s why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security.
“That means taking steps to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation, and reaffirming — reaffirming that we want to have better predictability and refraining from taking steps that will increase tension. And it means pursuing — this means pursuing crisis management mechanisms and effective channels for communications with its neighbors.
“These are some of the things I discussed with Chinese leaders. The United States has a profound stake in what happens here because we need, and we are, and will remain a Pacific power diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That’s just a statement of fact.”
White House (Carney)
“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. It does not have any practical effect on U.S. government operations.
“To underscore, China’s announcement was a provocative unilateral action that raises tensions in one of the world’s most geopolitically sensitive areas, including territory administered by another state. It clearly increases the risk of a dangerous miscalculation or accident that could escalate quickly and dangerously.
“Vice President Biden, who was just in China, was candid and direct with President Xi yesterday on these points: One, the zone should not be implemented — I think that answers your question — two, more broadly, China should refrain from taking similar actions elsewhere in the region, and three, China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels, to address the dangers its recent announcement has created, and to immediately lower tensions.”
Q: Back to China. When Jeff asked you if China should rescind the zone, you said it should not be implemented. Does that mean that the U.S. would accept a solution in which while China may not rescind the zone officially it would not enforce it?
MR. CARNEY: I think you’re looking for nuance and semantics that aren’t really there. The fact is countries have ADIZs. The United States has them. But it is not wise to unilaterally declare one in an uncoordinated fashion in one of the most highly sensitive areas in the world, which includes territories administered by other countries, and then make statements interpreted by many as threatening and out of line with international aviation practice and freedom of navigation norms.
That’s why China’s recent actions have been so dangerous and provocative. That’s why we reject it, we don’t accept it, and we call on China not to implement it. I think if you don’t implement it, that effectively — I think that’s pretty clear about what our policy is. We do not recognize it, and we have made no changes that have had any practical effect on U.S. government operations in the region. So I think we’ve been pretty clear about this.
Biden in South Korea
“That’s how my many hours of discussions with the Chinese leaders this last week were conducted. They were very direct. I was very direct about my country’s position on China’s sudden announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone. This announcement, to state the obvious, has created considerable apprehension across the region. But I was absolutely clear on behalf of my President: We do not recognize the zone. It will have no effect on American operations. Just ask my General. None. Zero.
“I’ve also made it clear that we expect China not to take action that increases tensions at the risk of escalation. And I was crystal-clear about our commitment to our allies, Korea and Japan. More broadly, I’ve made clear that there are practical steps countries can take and should take to lower the temperature, to reduce the risk of conflict, including avoiding actions that seem provocative, establishing lines of communication between militaries to manage incidents and prevent escalation.”
White House (Carney)
We, the United States, do not recognize and do not accept the newly announced East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. And it will not change — will not change — how the United States conducts military operations in the region. It does not have any practical effect on U.S. government operations.
It is for China to not implement it, which is what they’re calling — we’re calling on them to do. We don’t recognize it, we don’t accept it.
State Department (Harf)
“[W]e don’t recognize the ADIZ, that we feel that the way that China did this raises tensions in an already tense region, there was no consultation, this is one of the world’s obviously most geopolitically sensitive areas, and that we don’t believe they should implement it.”
QUESTION: Yeah, but what I’m suggesting is that a way out of the tensions is that China gets to keep what it’s declared, it just doesn’t implement it. So it’s an ADIZ that is there geographically but is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
MS. HARF: I take the point. Again, our problem is with how this was done and how we don’t believe it should be implemented practically. The practical part of this is what matters, so again, the Vice President made that very clear. I don’t know if an ADIZ can exist just in the ether without its implementation; I’m not sure if that’s even possible. But our position has been very clear that it should not be put into practice.
QUESTION: Because I think the confusion comes from your position saying that you don’t want China to implement it, and – is different from asking for them to rescind it or withdraw it completely.
MS. HARF: In practice, I don’t – I’m not sure there’s a difference though. That’s what I’m saying. Our policy hasn’t changed since the beginning, so I know we’re all focused a lot on words, but what we don’t want is for the regulations, as part of this ADIZ, to go into practice. That’s not what we want. We think it creates confusion. We think both commercial and government airlines it can create confusion for, and that’s just not a good situation.
QUESTION: No, but —
QUESTION: So the ADIZ could exist on a map but they just don’t put the regulations relating to it into practice.
MS. HARF: We don’t believe they should implement any part of the ADIZ. I don’t know if that includes putting it on a map or not, but we don’t believe they should implement it. We don’t believe that there should be different air traffic controllers from different countries calling into the same plane with different instructions because these are overlapping territories. We don’t believe that should be able to exist. And we don’t believe they should be able to change the status quo unilaterally with this ADIZ.
“China’s new ADIZ purportedly applies to all aircraft, including those not intending to enter, depart, or transit China’s national air space. Their assertion that they would cause all aircraft entering the ADIZ to report, regardless of whether they were intending to enter the sovereign air space of China, is destabilizing. We think it’s not a good thing.
“By extending its ADIZ over airspace administered by other countries without prior agreement, China has created a situation in which two different authorities claim to give orders to civilian aircraft, which could potentially create confusion. This is what I was talking about, that if you have Japanese, Korean, civilian – and now China’s civilian air traffic control authorities each talking to the same plane and giving them two different sets of guidance, that’s very confusing and unsafe. The references we’ve talked about to defensive emergency measures and establishing the ADIZ over sensitive territories in areas administered – administrated by other countries creates a destabilizing dynamic which could compel China’s neighbors to take further actions to respond.
“So again, to be clear, every state has a right to establish an ADIZ. Many states have them. We do as well. But it is not wise to unilaterally declare one in uncoordinated fashion in one of the most highly sensitive areas in the world, which includes territories administered – administrated by other countries, and then make statements that many would interpret as threatening and out of line with international aviation practice.”
“The Vice President did have a good discussion with President Park. Discussed – they discussed Korea’s potential response to China’s provocative announcement. Obviously not going to get into the details of their diplomatic discussions, but the – South Korea’s plans regarding its ADIZ were a part of that discussion. The Vice President indicated that we’re on the same page with the ROK as it considers its next steps, and I think I’ll probably leave it at that”
Senior administration officials traveling with Biden
“The Vice President expressed understanding for Korea’s approach, including with respect to potential adjustments to its zone. And as a result, not just in the conversation we had with President Park, but consultations that we’ve had with the Koreans over the course of the past two weeks, 10 days, he walked away from that conversation feeling like we were on the same page with respect to the key issues at play here, which include some pretty important elements — consultations with neighbors; taking actions consistent with international practice; ensuring that any measures don’t escalate tensions.”