China Sends Warplanes Into Disputed Islands’ Airspace

Deployments Add to Tensions After Japan, South Korea 'Violate' Airspace

The Chinese military has deployed warplanes into the airspace over the disputed Senkaku Islands, attempting to defend the new airspace defense zone they set up from repeated violations.

Both Japan and South Korea sent military flights into the disputed airspace today, following a previous move by US warplanes into the area, and some Japanese civilian plane flyovers.

China says the moves are purely defensive and in keeping with international common practice in the wake of airspace violation, though of course none of the other nations involved accept the islands as Chinese territory.

Ownership of the unpopulated islands is complicated. They were historically claimed as part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had ties with the Ming Dynasty of China, which is where Chinese claims of it being theirs originates. Japan occupied the islands in the late 19th century and had some industrial interests in the island through World War 2, when it was occupied by the United States. The US returned the islands to Japan in 1972, but they have sat unused and uninhabited ever since.

The islands have long been considered of little to no value, but there are believed to be significant offshore oil reserves in the territory, which has created new interest in enforcing those long-standing claims to the islands.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of