MANILA - An analyst believes China is laying the groundwork for an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Professor Richard Heydarian said the "skeleton" of an ADIZ is already being established based on China's reclamation activities.
"The skeleton of an ADIZ is already being put in place. When you have a network of airstrips, when you have more and more deployment of paramilitary and conventional military patrols, you're effectively allowing China to control maritime areas of contested waters but also the air over these contested features," he said in an ANC Headstart interview.
Heydarian said once China establishes its military presence in the South China Sea, it will push out other countries and choke off supply lines.
"As China builds military garrisons there and militarizes the conflict,
it will be in a position down the road to choke off supply lines of other countries who occupy other features," he said.
"It's not just China just taking away features away from other countries way beyond exclusive economic zone but the fear is that down the road if China imposes ADIZ, conducts more and more patrols air and naval patrols, it will be able to drive countries out of other features."
The Senate committees on national defense and security, and foreign relations will hold a hearing on China's reclamation activities today.
China on Wednesday called for peace and stability in the region as Philippine and Japanese coastguards held anti-piracy drills in Manila Bay in a display of growing maritime cooperation between the two states amid rising tensions in Asian waters.
Over 350 Filipino and Japanese coastguard personnel stormed a mock hijacked cargo vessel and airlifted the casualties out of the Philippine waters.
The rare maritime law enforcement exercises in Manila Bay was witnessed by 17 heads of Asian coast guard, including China, who are on a three-day conference to discuss how to cooperate on anti-piracy, safety and fighting translational crimes at sea.
"I do not acknowledge the relevant issue. But we all hope the regional countries can work together to contribute more positive energy and take more active and beneficial actions to strengthen the mutual trust among regional countries, and protect regional peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told media in Beijing.
Both the Philippines and Japan are challenged by China's growing assertiveness in the South China and East China Sea as Beijing uses coast guard and fishing vessels to go into disputed areas.
Last month, China's coastguard fired a water cannon on Filipino fishermen in the disputed Scarborough Shoal. China's coastguard has also previously challenged Japan's coastguard near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
This is the first time Japan and the Philippines conducted anti-piracy exercises after both states signed a deal in 2012 elevating their diplomatic ties to strategic partnership. with a report by Reuters