U.S. B-52 bomber
On Monday, the U.S. sent a pair of B-52 bombers from Guam over airspace in the East China Sea an area claimed by China to be within its protected "air defense" zone.
Included in the airspace are a group of islands which China and Japan claim as their territory, (though the islands lie close to the Chinese mainland).
China had announced on Saturday anyone flying into the zone required them to file a flight plan, a radio frequency or transponder information.
Prior to the flights, in apparent response to the Chinese announcement, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters the military wouldn't comply with China's demands saying, "The U.S. military will continue conducting flight operations in the region, including with our partners, and will not in any way change how we conduct our operations as a result of this new policy. We will not register a flight plan, we will not identify our transponder, our radio frequency and logo."
The White House weighed in that China's establishment of the zone was "unnecessarily inflammatory" and had "a destabilizing impact on the region."
From here, the bigger question is who is provoking who? Why would the U.S. confront China with an obviously provocative flyover by two B-52 bombers in an area just off the China coast?
A map of the area indicates Taiwan lies just to the south with Japan and South Korea to the north. So it's not exactly an area military planes should be traversing anyway. They could be interpreted as hostile unless their intentions are made known before making any flights to all the countries near the zone.
In fact China had two aerial patrols over the area on Sunday which prompted Japan to send two fighter jets to intercept them. Luckily nothing came of this incident.