A chef from Hebei who planned on landing his hot air balloon on the disputed Diaoyu islands was rescued by Japanese coastguards on January 1 after he’d crash-landed into the water 13.67 miles (22 km) away from the isles.
According to the report, the man, 35-year-old Xu Shuaijun, set off from Fuqing city, Fujian province. When the hot air balloon malfunctioned and it fell into the sea, the man sent an SOS signal using his own device. He has now been handed over to China’s marine police near the Island.
Xu’s air balloon excursion comes in the midst of heightened tensions over territory claims between China and Japan. In November, neighboring nations raised concerns when China announced the establishment of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea which included air space over the contested islands called Diaoyu and Senkaku.
The ADIZ requires all aircrafts flying through to identify themselves beforehand and to keep an open line of communication. Soon after its establishment, however, Japan and South Korea sent planes flying through the zone with no prior warning, sparking ire throughout China.
Recent reports have revealed that the establishment of China’s ADIZ in November was not a big surprise to Japan, however, as it was previously made out to be. Apparently, a Japanese government delegation was briefed by senior members of the Chinese military about the plans back in 2010.
By Isabel Quan