Friday, November 29, 2013

Hegemonic Conflict Watch: China's ADIZ roundup

Took the Motao out to Shihlin Night Market the other day.

So much commentary -- apparently China's new ADIZ woke the world up. We've arrived at one of those historical moments when even the densest dunderheads can see, a Panay moment, or a remilitarization of the Rhineland moment, when onlookers are beginning to realize the coming course of events....

...China has already scrambled planes in response to US and Japanese flights, Chinese media reports. Japan denies this.

Lots of good stuff out there. Corey Wallace over at China Policy Institute observes:
The Chinese government is increasingly perceived in Japan to be implementing a calculated and “staged” approach to undermining Japan’s claims to the Senkaku Islands, and using antipathy towards Japan as a justification for pursuing a more expansive military policy. For example, in September 2012, the PRC submitted to the United Nations the coordinates for demarcating the territorial seas around the islands. This was identified a precursor to maintaining a routine presence in and around the islands, and since this point incursions in the territorial waters around the islands have rapidly increased. Just two days prior to the ADIZ announcement, it was reported in Japan that Chinese maritime authorities had escalated the stakes again by boarding Chinese fishing vessels in the EEZ waters around the Senkaku Islands. It was confirmed by the JCG that this had happened three times since August, 2013. The ADIZ will therefore be interpreted as a signal of a Chinese intention to further implement its jurisdictional claim.

Indeed, Japanese media has been quick to explore the dangerous implications of the new ADIZs. For example, the Yomiuri labelled China’s action of declaring an ADIZ that includes airspace over islands under the administrative control of another nation to be of “an unusual nature in the international community.” The ADIZ move is seen as providing further evidence of Xi Jinping prioritising China’s “great power” ambitions, rather than steering China towards becoming a cooperative player in building a mutually beneficial East Asian regional framework. Xi’s advocacy for a “New Type of Great Power Relations” for managing future diplomacy, which excludes the interests of regional and global players other than the United States or the PRC, has also not gone unnoticed in Japan. The Japanese media has even reported that various Chinese diplomatic sources have admitted that hard line elements within the Chinese government and the PLA have settled on a strategy to challenge Japan on the Senkakus, to drive a wedge through the US-Japan alliance, and take a hard-line towards relations towards Japan in general. This strategy was apparently consolidated at the end of the recent third plenum, which saw China setting up a National Security Council, and Xi Jinping noting that China needed to directly face external and internal threats to China’s sovereign rights and national security. As such, the East China Sea ADIZ will be seen as setting the stage for a long-term exercising of military influence in the area, especially if the PRC goes on to announce a similar zone for the South China Sea. With the maiden South China Sea voyage of the Liaoning also being heavily reported in Japan, Japanese politicians and officials have quickly moved to discussing extending Japan’s own ADIZ eastwards to cover the Ogasawara islands in anticipation of future Chinese aerial activity on the back of its new ability to project aerial power.
Michal Thim at CPI similarly observes:
There is another important aspect to consider while analysing recent Chinese actions. Beijing may be motivated to take a stance in regards to its sovereignty claim and it is consistently pushing the envelope in this matter. However, it is also interested in testing the reactions of the U.S. and its allies to get a clearer picture for its actions in the future. The Taiwan Strait missile crisis in 1995/96 might have backfired and in the short term it was Beijing’s debacle but at the same time Chinese leaders tested U.S. reaction. In addition, the crisis provided critical stimulus for the development of Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) capability that nowadays represents significant challenge for any future deployment of carrier battle group near Chinese shores. More recently, during 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff with the Philippines, China has tested whether the U.S. would go beyond rhetorical support of its treaty ally when the subject of dispute is relatively insignificant elevation. Creation of ADIZ and increased number of naval and air incursions in the disputed area should be understood as part of broader strategy to change the status quo. Should the ADIZ face no strong reaction or should the extent of backlash be acceptable for Beijing, second ADIZ may come soon, this time over the South China Sea.
At the Diplomat, the really bizarre writing:
The islands, when referenced in Chinese historical documents, are generally considered to have been part of the administrative zone of Taiwan. In other words, if mainland China does gain control of the islands, it would effectively be administering part of Taiwan. Obviously, this give the dispute a deep symbolic meaning for Taiwan’s government.
The was never any administration of the Senkakus from Taiwan. That's a post-1971 lie. Where do people get this crap? -- especially since several of us have now published at The Diplomat showing that these are lies. Do they not consult their own stuff? The writer does make one good point, however:
In this context, Beijing’s ADIZ could have lasting ramification for cross-strait relations. The PRC seems not to have considered the potential backlash on Taiwan — particularly since the ADIZ roll-out occurred only days before an important visit to Taiwan by Chen Deming, the head of the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The timing of the announcement has marred Chen’s visit. The DPP and other critics have demanded that Ma lodge protests with Chen and even expel him from Taiwan if his response is seen as inadequate.

Beijing could easily have avoided this by holding off on the ADIZ for even a week, or even done Ma a political favor by informing him of the decision in advance. Instead, mainland officials missed an opportunity to ease the political shock in Taiwan. As a result, China’s aggressive move to solidify its claims over some uninhabited rocks might jeopardize its chances at a far larger prize — eventual unification with Taiwan.
Exactly -- the ADIZ not only screwed Korea, it also screwed Beijing's friend and ally, Ma Ying-jeou. The ROC government has announced that it will go along with the requirement of reporting its airlines movements in the ADIZ to Beijing, unlike Korea, Japan, and the US. Speaking of Korea, at The Diplomat resides a piece on the ADIZ and Korea:
The beauty of a unilateral move like an ADIZ is that the country imposing the zone gets to decide how the lines are drawn on the map. The Chinese decision to draw the ADIZ such that it was guaranteed to raise the ire of South Korea is odd. With South Korea, the PRC was fortunate enough to avoid the sorts of territorial rigmaroles it often finds itself in with Japan, Taiwan and various Southeast Asian states (over the South China Sea). South Korea and China had also found themselves converging over their common historical distaste for Japan along nationalist lines — a phenomenon abetted by the almost concomitant election of conservative Park Geun-hye in Korea and Shinzo Abe in Japan.

It’s perhaps too early to make a definitive determination about the impact the Chinese ADIZ will have on future relations between China and South Korea. South Korea’s restrained rhetorical response and China’s immediate attempts to set the record straight on Ieodo indicate that the ADIZ’s northeastern frontier, near Jeju-do, may have been an oversight on China’s part.


What should give South Korea pause over the ADIZ is the possible imposition of such zones in the future by China, something Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Yang Yujun claimed was in the pipes: “China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.” A future ADIZ off the Bohai Sea and into the Yellow Sea would have serious implications for South Korean security
For me the scariest article was a WaPo piece on it by Simon Denyer, which reads as if it softened something dictated by Xinhua propagandists:
It was designed as a forceful response to Japanese assertiveness. [Hahahaha - mt] But Beijing’s creation of an air defense zone may have backfired, experts said, eliciting a strong joint response from the United States and Japan.

In Chinese eyes, the standoff began in September 2012, [Why are we regurgitating Chinese propaganda? Who cares what Beijing wants outsiders to think? Don't we do our own research? - mt] when the Japanese government purchased three of the islands — known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China — from a private Japanese landowner. In response, Beijing stepped up its own claims to the rocky landmasses, increasing sea patrols and pressing Japan to accept that the territory is disputed.[Reality: the Japanese purchase was driven by China's escalating pressure. - mt]
This next bit is so comical it deserves to stand alone:
Beijing’s actions appear to fit a recent pattern, experts said. Reluctant to be seen as the provocateur, China tends to respond forcefully to what it sees as provocations from others and then advance its own claims even more strongly.
A totally Beijing-centric presentation. Ugly to see this in a US newspaper... but expect more in the future: the new normal is going to be US media presentations shaped by Beijing's power.

Finally, James Fallows has a good piece over at The Atlantic:
3) Is this likely to do China any good? The puzzling nature of Chinese foreign policy, especially its generally self-defeating "soft power" aspects, is a subject too vast for our purposes right now. In brief: the very steps that, from an internal Chinese-government perspective, are intended to make it seem confident, powerful, and attractive often have exactly the opposite effect on audiences outside China.

One famous illustration followed the world financial crisis of 2008. The Chinese economy recovered much more quickly than others; the U.S. looked like a house of cards; and the Chinese military made a number of expansionist-seeming moves in the South China Sea that quickly got the attention of neighboring countries. The result of this "over-reach" episode, as it is described now even in China, was to bring Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries into closer alignment with the U.S. than they had thought necessary before. By acting super-tough, the Chinese military made its real situation weaker.

This ADIZ case may become the next famous example. Whether it seems, either now or later, worthwhile from the Chinese leadership's perspective I have no idea. But at least in the short term, it appears to have alarmed the South Koreans, with whom Chinese relations had been steadily warming, plus introducing new friction into China's most important relationship, which is with the United States.
Great stuff. UPDATED: And don't miss this piece on the Chinese perspective from a Chinese PHD student in the China Policy Institute.

The Lew-Rockwell types are still off in some La-la land where all evils are due to the US and China is all rainbows and unicorns, but I noticed that over at the progressive website CommonDreams writer Gwynne Dyer actually thought the ADIZ was deliberately provocative. I'm remaining optimistic that the Left will come around on China...
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

Great article, the many views expressed from all sides of the aisle give a unique insight into what is really going on with this unnecessary and provocative ADIZ declaration.

I feel the real reason why the ADIZ was enforced has little to do with any clear, long-term objectives on China's part. The exact opposite has happened, now, not even civilian airlines file flight plans to Beijing. If the ADIZ weren't there, they would at least know what paths the JAL jumbo jets are taking.

China is still very much a communist country. Though it embraces a market-economy these days, its psyche and style of government is still maoist. They even have the 5-year plans still in place. That is an ancient Soviet economic framework.

Communist countries tend to behave in unpredictable ways because their systems are not designed to levitate the best and the brightest into the power room.

China's leaders today are more picked because of their background and family instead of their abilities. China already has the world in its grasp and it will inevitably be the world's top power in the next 20-30 years. But these aggressive incursions in both the South China Sea and East China Sea are bound to give it an anti-chinese alliance stretching from the himalayas to Tokyo.

China's destiny in achieving its full potential can still be stopped. And its actions are encouraging just that. China is still very much a poor country if you count the individual wealth of its people. If this aggressive behavior goes on for much longer, people are going to start to notice and the appetite for Chinese goods will be less around the world. If jobs eventually return to Europe and the US, the buyers of the goods anyway, then China's growth trajectory will be greatly dented.

I once cheered on China's rise, but since their aggressive behavior started sometime in 2008, I take my words back. The world is an infinitely more peaceful place if China is just a moderate-country that stuck inside its own borders.

yankdownunder said...

"Japan’s hypernationalist government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has most often been the provocateur,"

"But Mr. Abe has pursued a disturbingly nationalistic foreign policy dominated by overheated words and an aggressive posture toward China that can be dangerous, for Japan and the United States."

hypernationalist government


disturbingly nationalistic foreign policy

aggressive posture toward China

I know NYT hates Japan and this kind of sensationalist negative view of Japan is typical of their coverage of Japan.

I am not optimistic that the Left will come around on China because they still think WWII was "a good war" and China was a victim and Japan an evil monster.

yankdownunder said...

Getting Senkaku History Right

This is a good summary of the issue of ownership of the islands.

I know you have much more detailed posts on this(especially the Chinese/Taiwan false claims) but this
covers the basics that people(are reporters people?) should know.

yankdownunder said...

US Advises Carriers To Comply With China Air Zone

I did not expect US to order/suggest that airlines ignore China's zone.

But telling them to comply is a boost for China's claim.

Michael Turton said...

Yank read the report carefully, what the US gov't is saying is to follow normal procedures with the zone, as they would with any ADIZ.


WP said...

You beat me to it, but I'm glad you corrected the author (Shannon) of the Diplomat article when she stated in error that "The [Senkaku] islands, when referenced in Chinese historical documents, are generally considered to have been part of the administrative zone of Taiwan."

You are right, the islands were NEVER under Taiwan's (or China's) administration!!

Michael Turton said...

Yeah, but error correction isn't going to take place. That's the problem.