Manzullo: China Airspace Dispute A Puzzling Move

Dec 3, 2013

Don Manzullo

A former northern Illinois congressman says an airspace dispute involving China has the potential to raise international tensions. He also says he’s puzzled as to why the communist nation is angering its neighbors.

Chinese officials recently captured the attention of other nations by claiming control of international airspace alongside Japanese islands in the Pacific. The Obama administration ordered U.S. airlines to comply with China's demands that it be notified when flying through the area. But the White House says they still reject the notion that the space belongs to China.

Don Manzullo represented Illinois' 16th Congressional District for two decades, and was the ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Manzullo says it's a bit of a ‘head-scratcher’ that China has expanded its air-defense zone into disputed areas. He says the decision comes at a time when China is trying to help ease nuclear tensions between North and South Korea. Whatever the case, he says its clear Chinese officials will not back off their claim that the airspace belongs to them.

He says while no one knows what will happen, the situation could escalate into something further for the U.S.

“The U.S. has strong military ties to both Japan and South Korea. And the U.S. would be put in a position [to assist] if hostilities were to break out,” Manzullo said.

Manzullo, who now heads the Korea Economic Institute of America, says President Obama was right to have military aircraft fly through the zone. He says the U.S. and other countries need to hold firm and show that they won't recognize China's airspace claim.