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China preparing for Diaoyutai conflict: expert

HONG KONG--China is preparing for an armed conflict with Japan over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, a Hong Kong military expert said Saturday after Beijing issued a map of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.

The Diaoyutai Islands have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

China's Ministry of National Defense issued a statement Saturday on its official website regarding the establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ in accordance with the law on national defense, the law on civil aviation, and the basic rules on flight.

The statement was accompanied by a map which includes the Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.

Li Fung, a Hong Kong-based Chinese military expert told CNA that the move can be considered as a step by Beijing to bolster its sovereignty claims over the islands.

It also showed the Chinese government is preparing for military conflict with Japan over the disputed islands, Li said.

Tensions between China and Japan have escalated after Japan purchased three of the five Senkaku Islands from their private owners last September and nationalized them.

This move is seen as undermining a tacit agreement between China and Japan, Li said.

Japan has also taken a measure similar to China's by creating a military identification zone over the disputed islands, Li said, citing Chinese commentators.

Since then, China has sent regular coast guard patrols to the islands, which are 200 kilometers northeast of Taiwan and 400 kilometers west of Japan's Okinawa.

Japan has repeatedly taken preemptive measures concerning the disputed islands and China has simply taken countermeasures, according to Li.

The establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ provides a legal basis for the Chinese People's Liberation Army to deal with cases in which military planes from other countries fly into the zone, Li said.

On the other hand, Taiwan's government said President Ma Ying-jeou and the Cabinet have consistently upheld that the Diaoyutai Islands are an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China.

To maintain regional peace and stability, Ma has been promoting the East China Sea Peace Initiative, under which the R.O.C. calls on mainland China and Japan to shelve disputes and work together to develop resources in waters around the Diaoyutai Islands through joint efforts.

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