Chinese public backs air defence zone: Survey

BEIJING (AFP) - The vast majority of Chinese back an air defence zone declared over disputed waters, a survey released on Tuesday said, despite the move sharply escalating tensions in the region.

Nearly 85 per cent of respondents believe the Air Defence Identification Zone over an area that includes islands administered by Japan would "safeguard (China's) airspace security", according to the poll by the state-run Global Times newspaper.

The newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist party and often takes a nationalistic stance, said 53.6 per cent of respondents believed the zone would help push the dispute over the islands - known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - in Beijing's favour.

Another 39.5 per cent felt it would "create a more stable landscape with an even power struggle formed between China and Japan".

It added that 4.3 per cent however felt the zone's creation "will do harm to China as it may be used by Japan to play up China's military assertiveness".

The survey also asked for a suggested response when a "foreign aircraft illegally enters the air defence zone".

Almost 90 per cent called for the military to send planes to "intercept and drive off", while 60 per cent agreed with opening fire "after warning is ineffective".

The zone - which would require aircraft to obey China's orders - provoked strong objections from Tokyo and Washington, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on China to "restrain itself".

More than 1,100 adults in seven major cities were surveyed by the paper.

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