Home > Analysis, News, politics > Is China Escalating Tensions in the East China Seas By Creating an Air Defense Identification Zone?

Is China Escalating Tensions in the East China Seas By Creating an Air Defense Identification Zone?

Air Defense Identification Zone of China and Japan in the East China Sea

Air Defense Identification Zone of China and Japan in the East China Sea

Recently, one sees again a torrent of articles in the Western press about how China is escalating tensions in the the East China Seas By Creating an Air Defense Identification Zone.   The response from the U.S. and its lackey Japan has been swift.  NYT reports:

China’s announcement appeared to be the latest step in what analysts have called a strategy to chip away at Japan’s claims of control of the islands. Japan has long maintained a similar air defense zone over them.

The Japanese foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, called the Chinese declaration a dangerous escalation that could lead to what many military analysts most fear in the tense standoff: a miscalculation or accident that could set off an armed confrontation and drag the United States into the conflict.

“It was a one-sided action and cannot be allowed,” Mr. Kishida told reporters, according to Japan’s Kyodo News. It could also “trigger unpredictable events,” he warned.

In a statement on Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the American government viewed the Chinese move “as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.” He also reaffirmed that the United States would stand by its security treaty obligations to aid Japan if it were attacked.

By setting up a competing air defense zone, China may be trying to show that its claim to the islands is as convincing as Japan’s, Japanese officials said. They said China appeared to have a similar objective last Thursday, when Chinese coast guard officers boarded a Chinese fishing boat near the islands.

Ahh … how one-sided and myopic is the NYT report (surprise!).

Peter Lee wrote a timely response to such shenanigan in the Asia Times today, which I quote in its entirety (Lee sometimes writes long-winded rants that I can’t follow, but this one is succinct).

Bonnie Glaser gets it about right regarding China’s newly announced Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ: “I don’t know that this is specifically directed against Japan, so much as it is the Chinese feeling that every modern country should have an Air Defense Identification Zone.” [1]

Just to make it clear. An ADIZ is not a “no fly zone” or extension of sovereignty. It is defined by the speed of modern enemy jets and the amount of time needed to challenge, identify hostile intent, and prepare air defenses.

When unidentified planes entire an ADIZ, they are required to identify themselves.

Per Xinhua, the new regulations require:
1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.

3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.

4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties. [2]

I like that. In a tense area of the Pacific, potentially hostile planes are supposed to identify themselves when they are flying around. You don’t want somebody shooting at your plane, all you have to do is get on the radio. Good. Extend that ADIZ out to Midway. Maybe it’ll stop World War III.

The ADIZ looks like it’s stabilizing, not destabilizing the region.

Put me on the same page with the PRC Ministry of National Defense spokesperson:

Having established its own air defense identification zone in late 1960s, Japan has no right to make irresponsible remarks on China’s setup of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, Yang said.

According to Yang, Japan has frequently sent military planes in recent years to track and monitor Chinese military planes which were conducting normal exercises and patrols above the East China Sea in the name of entering its own air defense identification zone, which severely undermined the freedom of over-flight and made safety accidents and unexpected incidents highly likely.

Yang also accused the Japanese officials of using the media to maliciously report about China’s legal and normal flights in an attempt to confound public opinions and create oppositional emotions.

“Facts have proven that it is Japan who has been creating tense situations,” Yang said. [3]For support for Yang’s assertion, I invite readers to review my postabout the flight of the Chinese turboprop between two Japanese islands in August, which morphed into a fighter plane intrusion on its way through the media sausage factory.

China’s declarations were not good enough for the Japanese and Western press, which embarked on another round of “assertive China” hysterics.

The most dishonest element was characterizing the zone as primarily a piece of Senkaku Islands-related shenanigans.

I don’t doubt that China is trying to slice the East China salami, and use the ADIZ to strengthen its administrative claims over the area of the Senkakus, but look at the map below provided by MIT’s Taylor Fravel. The yellow line is the Chinese declared ADIZ. The red zone is the overlap with the Japanese ADIZ (Remember it’s not an exclusion zone. Overlapping is OK. It’s a “you’ve got to talk to the other guy’s air traffic control when you fly in there” zone):

It’s the entire East China Sea north of Taiwan. It’s targeting Japan, to be sure (for valid reasons) but the Senkakus are only a tiny part of it – that little bend in the lower right quadrant otherwise wouldn’t cover the Senkakus. That means that when Japan’s SDF flies planes over there, they should talk to the PRC. I think that’s a good thing.

People with long memories – obviously not including the main media outlets, pundits, or their readers-might have noticed the parallels between the ADIZ furor and the vaporings over the new PRC Coast Guard regulations in the South China Seas at the end of last year.

That was also billed as a “worrying escalation” but it was a nothingburger.

The big difference between the Coast Guard regulations and the ADIZ is that the United States government soft-pedaled the Coast Guard issue but got its back up on ADIZ with statements from Chuck Hagel and John Kerry that the Japanese found extremely gratifying.

I think US dismay was not elicited by the PRC’s logical desire to have foreign planes talk to the PRC when they approach PRC airspace.

I think it had to do with clause 3 of the regulations:

Third, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.The United States is not in the business of following instructions of the PRC when it does whatever it does outside of Chinese airspace.

Recall (well, maybe you don’t recall, but it’s what happened) that the “free navigation of the South China Seas” campaign of Secretary Clinton in 2010 was not an expression of her sedulous concern for merchant shipping; it was because the PRC had displayed the temerity to challenge, both practically and legally, the cruises of US Navy contractor survey vessels in the South China Sea.

On the short list of things that the United States is not going to want to do is have its aircraft obey some PRC ADIZ guy when all we want to do is chunk an aircraft carrier in the East China Sea and fly planes off it whenever and wherever we want.

My guess is, the US is punishing the PRC for its presumption (especially in not consulting with the US ahead of time) by allowing the issue to play out as “China goes aggro on the Senkakus” and giving aid and comfort to Japan.

1. China ups ante in conflict with Japan with new air defense ID zone, Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.
2. Announcement of the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the P.R.C., XinhuaNet, November 23, 2013.
3. Click here.

To repeat, every nation has a right to set up an air defense identification zone.  It has nothing to do with sovereignty – e.g. exclusive jurisdiction of any sort – over the zone per se.  But it has to do with safeguarding sovereignty over its own territory.  Japan has long defined – and China will now start to define – an extensive ADIZ over the East China seas because it deems unidentified flying objects in that area as potentially threatening.  If left unidentified, to safeguard each party’s on territory and sovereignty, it has a right to intercept the object to assessthe potential threat.

Air defense (e.g. scrambling jets, identifying and responding to potential threats) takes time.  A nation’s defensive activities are not limited to its sovereign territories only.  China – like any other nation – has the right to i.d. and if needed intercept objects over international air space if objects there is close enough to its territory to be deemed threatening.

The fact that China’s ADIZ overlaps with Japans is not a “challenge” to Japan – but a manifestation of reality that Japan and China are neighbors.  China has long accepted (and still does) Japan’s defense requirements – but the U.S. and Japan have not. The recent remarks by Hagel and Kerry (the latter having announced that U.S. is “deeply concerned.”) – and the ever present aggressive acts and maneuvers the U.S. takes around China right up to China’s coastlines – are but some of the manifestations.

By my measure, the longest projection of China’s ADIZ is some 550 km, from the coast of Shanghai.

China's newly announced ADIZ



By contrast, Japan’s ADIZ stretches some 1000 km from its mainland (Kagoshima).


Japan's ADIZ

Japan’s ADIZ


For reference, below are two maps of the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone.


U.S. ADIZ - contiguous states

U.S. ADIZ – contiguous states

U.S. ADIZ - Alask

U.S. ADIZ – Alask

Sources: wikipedia

The U.S. ADIZ appears to consistently stretch some 1000 km into the Pacific.  In the case of Alaska (Dutch Harbor), it stretches almost 2000 km into the Pacific.

So by defining an ADIZ that is some 500 km from its industrial heart and much less than that for the most part of its coastlines, China is deemed to be escalating tensions?  What about the U.S. and Japan ADIZ, which consistently stretches out double or triple (or more) that distance – and from towns and villages that are orders of magnitude much less than Shanghai?  Which parties are the ones fanning flames and escalating tensions?

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  1. ersim
    November 25th, 2013 at 08:52 | #1

    I guess the U.S. so called Asia Pivot doesn’t exist in the NYT’s timeline.

  2. Black Pheonix
    November 25th, 2013 at 17:56 | #2

    US’s “status quo”: I push, you take it. That’s my status quo.

    Well, this isn’t “escalation”. This is just “blowback” on imperial overreach.

  3. Black Pheonix
    November 25th, 2013 at 18:13 | #3

    Latest: Airlines are tacitly “obeying” China’s new ADIZ.

    Well, now everyone’s hands are on the islands, proverbially speaking. Let’s see who’s going to be the 1st one to take their hands off.


  4. Black Pheonix
    November 25th, 2013 at 18:17 | #4

    Also, if Japan wants to counter China’s air patrol, let it.

    Let’s see who waste the most amount of fuel. (Well, it would be Japan, because of how far Diaoyu is from its mainland).

    But hey, US did always say, Chinese pilots need have more training.

    Oh, did we forget the EP3 incident?? Well, I guess it’s good time to revisit who will be monitoring whom in the ADIZ.

  5. Black Pheonix
    November 25th, 2013 at 18:20 | #5



    Well, Japanese airlines can certainly take detours if they do not wish to submit to the ADIZ.

    Oh no, there is “no dispute” at all. We all play by our own rules.

  6. November 25th, 2013 at 19:04 | #6

    The first map clearly showed Japan’s ADIZ which obviously pushed much closer to China’s shore and is further away from Japan’s. Only a biased person can say China is aggressive. Japan’s ADIZ is outlined in red and China’s is in yellow.

  7. ersim
    November 25th, 2013 at 20:41 | #7

    Japan is no threat to China. The real threat is in the other side of the globe with it’s so called Asia Pivot. Japan is just using it to it’s so called advantage to push it’s imperial white master to acelerate the so called pivot and let them do the dirty work to provoke China.

  8. ho hon
    November 25th, 2013 at 22:24 | #8

    The reason why US and Japan are so hysteric, is because China has made a very good move, with excellent timing (right after the praised 3rd plenum,) on the chessboard. Or I should say, finally China defined her chessboard.

  9. November 26th, 2013 at 01:39 | #9

    Informative article, Allen. Never heard about ADIZ before. NYT and the like are truly preying on the ignorant Western public.

  10. November 26th, 2013 at 05:33 | #10


    The first map clearly showed Japan’s ADIZ which obviously pushed much closer to China’s shore and is further away from Japan’s. Only a biased person can say China is aggressive.

    The comment you made is fair enough, and while I did note in the post the distance from the mainland, I also want to note that no doubt Japan extends its ADIZ in part on its territorial claims to Ryukyu / Okinawa islands.

    For the purpose of this post, I make no assertion on the validity / invalidity of Japan’s claims, but the reason I noted the distance to the mainlands is that ADIZ is not defined necessarily by territorial rights. In fact, if you have territorial rights, then you don’t need a ADIZ. You can do much more than just ask airplanes to id themselves to you, but things like tell them to go away, force them down, etc.

    ADIZ is defined to protect your defense concerns … elsewhere. Here is where things like Shanghai and “mainland” matters. With a major center like Shanghai, you obviously need to identify unidentified flying objects nearby. Setting up ADIZ helps you simplify things, by making it routine for normal flights to identify themselves so you focus on the truly unusual – potentially threatening objects.

    I have no problem with Japan’s ADIZ. In fact, given the aggressive nature of Japan these days, and the proximity China’s important industrial centers are to the East China Sea, I think China ought to extend its own. I have no problems with overlapping ADIZ.

  11. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 06:50 | #11

    This is a good one. Japan begs its own airlines to defy China’s ADIZ, to no avail. Haha.


  12. Sleeper
    November 26th, 2013 at 09:56 | #12

    Black Pheonix :
    Also, if Japan wants to counter China’s air patrol, let it.
    Let’s see who waste the most amount of fuel. (Well, it would be Japan, because of how far Diaoyu is from its mainland).
    But hey, US did always say, Chinese pilots need have more training.
    Oh, did we forget the EP3 incident?? Well, I guess it’s good time to revisit who will be monitoring whom in the ADIZ.

    Yeah, I also think so. What’s important is that let them waste as many engine lives of their F-2’s and F-15J’s as they can. Japs are so pathetic that can’t even produce engines of jet fighters solely (Instead they have to buy whole engines from US), while China is changing old AL-31 (from Russia) to new designed WS jet fighter engines systematically.

  13. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 10:58 | #13


    I actually do not mean it as any kind of confrontation with Japan.

    It’s common for nations to JOINTLY administer overlapping ADIZ. (I think US and Canada do it). That has very little to do with sovereignty claim directly. (China merely said that it was expanding its ADIZ to protect its sovereignty in general, not specifically over Diaoyu.)

    So, Japan can do their own flights. China can do its flights in the ADIZ.

    If Japan wants to increase its flights, let it.

  14. Sleeper
    November 26th, 2013 at 11:01 | #14

    Latest news. Japanese airlines decide not to submit any flight plans to China for the purpose of flying through China’s ADIZ, following Japanese government’s order, from 00:00 (Japanese time), Nov 27, 2013.

    On the other hand, two US B-52 bombers had flown through China’s ADIZ at 8 am (Beijing time) 26 Nov , even though two bombers didn’t fly with any weapons and escorts.

    Let’s see what’s going on later…

  15. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 12:44 | #15

    The US had already previously announced that military exercise, with those flights. If they already told China that this was going to be there, it’s NOT “defying” the ADIZ, and they know it.

    “Defying” would be something like they don’t tell China about any plans of the flights, and just did it.

    Wall Street Journal is F*ing full of sh*t in this story.

    2 Japanese airlines decided not to submit flight plans.

    But They had already submitted flight plans weeks ahead. if they stopped on Wednesday, that won’t do any thing until weeks later.

    Also, they might decide to avoid the ADIZ entirely. Nobody in the news is talking about that.

  16. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 12:57 | #16

    The Whole Western media is just over reacting to this non-story, like China is going to start shooting down planes if they don’t identify themselves in the ADIZ.

    When in reality, it’s customary international law in enforcing ADIZ to use all available information to identify possible threat.

    Civilian airlines have transponders, even if they don’t file flight plans, China can still assess the information available to determine threat level.

    I mean, if a plane deviates from its flight path, shouldn’t China check it out by sending up planes?!

    Hello, 9/11??!! If you don’t file a flight plan, doesn’t that make your plane rather suspicious??

  17. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 13:00 | #17

    BTW, here is a good story on Taiwan’s ADIZ over Diaoyu. Japan extended its ADIZ to overlap Taiwan’s in 2010.

    Why didn’t US raise that as an escalation?


  18. November 26th, 2013 at 13:18 | #18

    @Black Pheonix

    The Whole Western media is just over reacting to this non-story, like China is going to start shooting down planes if they don’t identify themselves in the ADIZ.

    Exactly. If people decide not to file plans, China simply has given advanced warning that if you don’t identify yourself and China fails to do the same, China will take defensive procedures, as is within its right.

    For years, the West has called for more transparency – including protocol transparency – from the Chinese military. Now – China has made part of its protocol hugely transparent – to ensure flights are properly identified so China need not take mysterious (from the outside) defensive procedures. Yet, when transparency is given, it is twisted into some kind of war-like talk.

    So now we have politicized what is a simple administrative protocol, what now? If Japanese airlines decides not to file, fine. The ball is the Chinese side. They may do nothing, treating it as a nusance – making Chinese defense jobs slightly more complicated in the sense that they may have to take the extra steps to identify Japanese airlines, and when they fail to, take defensive actions (including scrambling jets) if somehow a flight is misidentified/unidentified. Would have avoided the whole problem with a simple i.d., folks.

    Of course, the Chinese gov’t can play hardball politics, too, and ask all its airlines to do the same with Japanese ADIZ – and return the favor. The Japanese side may treat Chinese flight as similar nusance. They may then take steps up to scrambling jets routinely at Chinese flights if they want. But what would all that accomplish?

    See how stupid the response from U.S. and Japan (and Australia) has been? China has taken steps to reduce the chance of misidentifying objects in strategically sensitive place – and U.S. and allies decide not to cooperate – as if they are dissing China.

    Problem is: ADIZ ≠ territory grab. The U.S. and Japan are the ones destabilizing the region by refusing to cooperate on mutual identifying of friendly (i.e. non-threatening) flights (hello: threatening flights by default don’t need to register). Again, think objectively – from a neutral perspective? If China refuse to id its flights in Japan and U.S. ADIZ – what would they accomplish?

    What – except some sort of stupid childish political statement?

    That’s where the U.S. and its allies are now in the Pacific.

  19. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 14:51 | #19

    I found it troubling browsing through some online comments on this affair:

    (1) Japan’s PM publicly ridicules South Korea as “foolish country”, and China as “absurd”.

    If that’s not enough,

    (2) some American nationalist netters started expressing how they really feel:

    1 netter said it was US that kept Japan on the “leash”, and if China is not grateful enough, then US will let Japan loose from its “leash”, and China would face another Japanese invasion.

    That sentiment is apparently how many Americans feel about Japan and China:

    That (a) Japan is inherently violent and prone to military expansionism, and required US overlording to keep them in check,

    and (b) China is ungrateful for US’s overlording of Japan.

    Now, I’m pretty sure that some Japanese Nationalists actually long suspected that American felt (a), and they also felt that US was indeed keeping them caged up like animals, and this only confirms it openly in some forums.

    But I also think that this is the real root of the problem: US has been for decades caging up Japan to whip up distrust and fear between Japan and its neighbors, by telling Japan, if it wasn’t for US, China and Korea would have destroyed you, and by telling China and Korea, that if it wasn’t for US, Japan would rise up and invade you again!

    I found this whole line of thinking extremist nationalist to say the least, and highly racist.

    And most recent US tone to China is nothing more than another attempt to whip up Nationalist Japanese to fear and hate China even more.

  20. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 15:20 | #20

    @Black Pheonix

    So in 2010, US basically went silent, when Japan pressed up its ADIZ into Taiwan’s existing ADIZ, just to cover Diaoyu. Japan unilaterally went ahead with it without discussing it with Taiwan or PRC. Taiwan, BTW, publicly rejected Japan’s new ADIZ, but could do very little about it.

    That was “status quo” too apparently. Well, China is just doing what was accepted in “status quo”, i.e. pressing up ADIZ into other people’s ADIZ.

    I say, heck, if US won’t help Taiwan and China to keep Japan from escalating, then China has to respond in kind.

    It’s quite proportional in response.

    If US wants to respond passive aggressively via these antics, then China would remember it and respond it passive aggressively.

    It’s basic proportional courtesy of “Is that how you want to play it?”

  21. Black Pheonix
    November 26th, 2013 at 19:11 | #21

    I think it should be clear to China that now this is a top priority issue for China.

    Thus, China cannot waste any more time or energy with other non-essential matters that have little to do with China’s core interests of sovereignty.

    I suggest that China immediately pull itself out of some other international negotiations that China only play 2nd fiddle any ways.

    For example, I think China has spent far too much time as the intermediary between US and Iran, and also between US and North Korea.

    I really don’t think China should spend any more time on those running around, since according to many Western media, China’s “help” was hardly even noticed (or appreciated).

    Let China pull out now, quietly, before others start complaining about how “miserly” or “stingy” China is being again.

    Hey, why keep wasting time with people who don’t want your “help”?

    Let’s focus on Diaoyu now, because clearly that needs China’s national attention.

  22. Zack
    November 27th, 2013 at 01:48 | #22

    the US pivot is basically military, as Stephen Harner from Forbes points out, the Pentagon has hijacked the US’ Asia policy and therefore has very little by way of economic or diplomatic substance (save economic subjugation via the TPP)

  23. Sleeper
    November 27th, 2013 at 04:46 | #23

    @Black Pheonix

    Unfortunately BP, latest news proved that USAF didn’t tell China anything about the bomber’s “tour plan” (It seemd that two bomber flew along the edge of ADIZ back and forth). It’s a direct challenge and humiliation against China’s new ADIZ. Well, Chinese military replied on the press conference that two bombers were under “fully surveillance”……I hope the military would like to react a bit more actively.

    But let’s face it. ADIZ is still new to China. It not a simple job of which sends forth some planes patrolling an area. China’s still learning hard how to defend her rights, and time will tell whether China is a good student.

  24. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 06:30 | #24


    I agree that China will learn a lot from this ADIZ.

    More specifically though, remember that Japan had threatened to shoot down Chinese patrol planes in Japanese ADIZ above Diaoyu.

    Then, in that context, the Chinese ADIZ is a direct defiance against the Japanese threat.

    Now Chinese patrol planes are flying in the ADIZ, what has Japan done?

    NOTHING, except to whine some more to the US.

    Well, China’s point made. China’s ADIZ is here to stay, and there is NOTHING Japan and US can do about it.

  25. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 06:44 | #25

    BTW, US applies double standards in its regulation of ADIZ and behavior toward other nation’s ADIZ.

    The United States formally defines an ADIZ in the Code of Federal Regulations: 14 CFR Part 99. Furthermore 14 CFR Part 99.49 states “All airspace of the United States is designated as Defense Area”, in which by definition the control of aircraft is required for reasons of national security. Therefore the ADIZ forms a transition zone in which aircraft come under positive identification and control by air traffic and defense authorities. 14 C.F.R. 99.11a states “No person may operate an aircraft into, within, or from a departure point within an ADIZ, unless the person files, activates, and closes a flight plan with the appropriate aeronautical facility, or is otherwise authorized by air traffic control“, which appears to claim authority over all aircraft in the external U.S. ADIZ regardless of destination.

    However, the U.S. Navy’s Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations states the ADIZ applies only to commercial aircraft intending to enter U.S. sovereign airspace, with a basis in international law of “the right of a nation to establish reasonable conditions of entry into its territory”. The manual specifically instructs U.S. military aircraft to ignore the ADIZ of other states when operating in coastal areas:

    The United States does not recognize the right of a coastal nation to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter national airspace nor does the United States apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. airspace. Accordingly, U.S. military aircraft not intending to enter national airspace should not identify themselves or otherwise comply with ADIZ procedures established by other nations, unless the United States has specifically agreed to do so.

    Meanwhile in actual practice the U.S. does attempt to apply its external ADIZ to military aircraft which pass through its extended ADIZ without intending to enter U.S. sovereign territory.

    A U.S. Air Force university dissertation states:
    These regulations do not pertain to military aircraft, but to enter US airspace, without inducing the scrambling of fighter interceptors, these rules must be complied with and followed. The US does not claim sovereignty over these zones per se, but does closely monitor and request information of all objects entering the zone.

  26. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 07:43 | #26

    @Black Pheonix

    In this logic, I would suggest that in the future, China adopt the same policy as US in reciprocity when conducting military overflight in US ADIZ (and Japanese ADIZ).

    It’s time to call BullSH*T on US’s double standards.

  27. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 09:44 | #27

    North Korea wants some attention:

    I say, China should wash its hand of this mess from now on. From now on, for China, there is “no dispute” on the North Korean issue. Whatever “dispute”, exist only between North Korea and others. It’s not China’s business any more.

    I’m frankly sick and tired of China playing “helper middleman”, squeezed between all the belligerent tough talking egos, and getting blamed for every break down.

    China doesn’t have to jack SH*T for anyone in this dispute.


  28. BeijingScot
    November 27th, 2013 at 09:58 | #28

    For an interesting view – and I’m sure some will find unusually candid take (given its a western media source) – from the UK press, see here:


    Ciao … will check in tomorrow for feedback. Late in Beijing & off to bed. 晚安.

  29. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 10:30 | #29

    Let’s talk about ACTUAL threat:

    (1) Japanese PM Abe approved Japanese patrol to fire “warning shots” at unarmed Chinese vessels. (talk about picking on the weak).

    (2) Japanese PM Abe threatened to shoot down Chinese planes in the 2010 expanded Japanese ADIZ.

    Yeah, “pragmatic” Abe?? I don’t think so.

    I think the Chinese response recently is actually quite mild, considering the express violence threatened by Japan upon China.

  30. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 10:50 | #30

    Biden to go to China for “clarification”.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure Biden will be there for a lot of back stage play Mr. Nice guy routine, and then out the door, We strongly support Japan, kind of 2 faced talk.

    On the other hand, Biden’s plane will likely be filing a flight plan.


  31. November 27th, 2013 at 10:54 | #31

    Oliver Stone’s speech in Hiroshima comparing Japan and Germany post war.


  32. BeijingScot
    November 27th, 2013 at 10:56 | #32

    Actual threat is not actually so important. (

    As a non-Chinese national and non-Japanese national, my default stance is not to voice any opinion on the territorial dispute. It is not for me, given the sensitivities, to think my outsider opinion should hold sway.

    It has been a strategic game with both China and Japan pushing each other (with perceived provocations on both sides). The ultimate strategic issue (with the ADIZ) was to test US resolve – would they ‘really’ back up their words of support on their alliance with Japan.

    They sent a strong response.

    I suspect that economic/debt issues (etc.) are going to get real interesting in the coming months.

    OK- now I really am off to bed. I wish all of you a good evening … or (if you are in Asia), a good sleep.

  33. OneHuman
    November 27th, 2013 at 11:22 | #33

    technically, I see this setup of ADIZ is a good move. China only wasted some water while US has to scramble bombers. Who care face? If a real war broke out, will your face save your life?

    strategically, this is also a good move. it definitely will provoke japan to militarize itself. but a militarized japan is a good thing. let me explain to you.

    1. japan, at the end of WWII, was forced to take this peaceful constitution by the US. Japan nowadays is not a normal country because it theoretically speaking cannot defend itself. Militarizing Japan will make it a normal country, just like any other countries such UK, France. A normal country will not like to see a large foreign army stationed on its soil. So, a militarized japan will want to push out US force of its soil. This will be exactly against Obama’s military pivot-Asia policy.

    2. after japan became militarized, China should not fear about japan. if china cannot defend itself against a militarized japan invasion, that speaks a lot about the incompetency of the Chinese government and chinese people. why on earth a normal country with 1.4 billion people with such a huge land fear another normal country with 1/10 of people and much smaller land?

    3. As long as human race exist on this planet, China and Japan need to live with each other. This is true even if a major war has broke out between China and Japan. War is the goal; war is the mean to achieve the way you want. I wouldn’t believe in those remarks about total annihilation of an entire race with millions or even billions of people. if this even happen again, the end of human race is near.

    Just my two cents.

  34. November 27th, 2013 at 11:53 | #34

    “More than twenty countries have ADIZ, why can’t China has one?”

    US official respond below:


  35. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 13:28 | #35

    I personally do not fear Japan “re-militarization”.

    Personally, I think Japan should have had the freedom to arm itself after WWII, once it fulfilled its WWII treaty obligations (renouncing claims to its former territories outside of the main islands).

    Well, I think US fears Japan’s militarization more than other nations. Because South Korea alone can match Japan’s military.

    Heck, what US really fears is rearmed Japan kicking US out once and for all.

    Maybe we’ll do just that. Pressure Japan to rearm, until it kicks out US, and then South Korea, Japan, China can sit down and negotiate (without the interloper).

    It worked for US and USSR. I don’t see war as necessary. Threat of armed conflict alone might be sufficient to bring about negotiations.

    Japan will see soon enough that whining to US just won’t solve any thing, and will eventually get the point.

  36. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 13:38 | #36

    “Support from US” means nothing in this context.

    US actually isn’t calling on China to rescind the ADIZ. So define the limit of their support, because even US knows, existence of ADIZ is completely legal. China’s ADIZ rules are similar to US’s ADIZ rules.

    So what can US offer to Japan? Would US support still, if Japan decide to declare war on China over an ADIZ? Doubt it.

    Would US support still, if Japan shot down a Chinese patrol plane in the ADIZ? Doubt it.

    US’s response (actually US said it was NOT a response) is nothing more a PR posturing. And everyone knows it, even the Japanese.

    The REAL back pocket game is not “economic/debt issues”, it’s North Korea and Iran.

    Either one of those messes will get US to tell Japan “Not now” in a heartbeat.

    Like I said, we all know what our “priorities” are in this game of international “GO”.

    And if you get too greedy in “GO”, you will lose very quickly.

  37. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 13:52 | #37

    @Black Pheonix

    To further add: I seriously doubt Japan has the stomach for major rearming, especially nuclear arms, no matter how much the Japanese nationalists would like to believe.

    That’s why they keep hyping threats from China and North Korea, and even from South Korea (and even from US), trying to fan up national paranoia.

    Problem for Japanese Nationalism:

    (1) Modern Japan has a lot of contacts with Koreans and Chinese people, via immigration and trade. They may fear the intentions of the Chinese and Korean governments, but on personal levels, it’s hard to convince them that Chinese people are bloodthirsty enough to willing to massacre them. Japanese people in general are not stupid to fall for the old militant nationalism gimmick again.

    (2) Modern Japanese are also pragmatic (more so than Abe and other politicians). Okinawans for example, generally do not view Chinese fishing boats as any problems in their waters, and they generally blame the tension on the Japanese politicians (for making sh*t up for no reason). Majority Japanese, while fearing China’s rise, also see no alternative than to build better relations with China via diplomacy.

    WHY? Because fundamentally, if Japan did go to war with China, they know the Koreans would not help them, and that indeed, it would be Japan against rest of East Asia (and perhaps throw in Russia).

    And Japan is a small nation by population, compare to China and the Koreas. That kind of war would not end well for any one, but Japan’s chance of victory would be slim to none. Practically, there is NO way for Japan to force China to surrender.

    Japan learned from WWII, not to fight another war of attrition against a bigger opponent. That’s a fundamental reality that the Japanese Nationalists cannot overcome.

  38. Black Pheonix
    November 27th, 2013 at 14:26 | #38

    BTW, China gave early notice (days earlier) to South Korea, about the ADIZ.


    “”We had been recently informed of the Chinese side’s decision to set up the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ),” the source said on the condition of anonymity, adding that the Chinese side “expressed its willingness to discuss the issue in a friendly manner”.”

    *Interesting that South Korea didn’t bother to tell US or Japan, eh? And instead, kept it as secret for China, and allowed China to make the announcement on its own time.

    Oh, US definitely has some thing to worry about now.

  39. ho hon
    November 27th, 2013 at 23:24 | #39


    Thanks Ray. Accordingly, the US official response is:

    “Er, well… eh… we… you know… ”

    I admire her frank elaboration of the US position.

  40. ho hon
    November 27th, 2013 at 23:32 | #40


    Ray – I noticed this speech weeks ago, but I cannot find any reports in CNN, BBC etc. If you got any news coverage please let us know.


  41. Sleeper
    November 28th, 2013 at 04:23 | #41

    It seems the situation is getting ugly. Now US, Japanese and Korean air force had sent their planes flying through China’s ADIZ without any noticing while Chinese air force did LITTLE (So far only a reconnaissance aircraft was sent to deal with US bombers). I always know that ADIZ is NOT a no-fly zone, but why didn’t Chinese air force send some fighters tracing such trespassers?

    I’m not wondering who will be next but what Chinese air force is going to do.

  42. Black Pheonix
    November 28th, 2013 at 06:18 | #42


    ADIZ is a right /prerogative to China to enforce in whatever ways it sees fit. Others somehow consider it an obligation for China to react strongly, or somehow ADIZ means nothing.

    Well, China merely announced an ADIZ, nothing unusual, considering Japan expanded its ADIZ in the region recently.

    China didn’t threaten to shoot down planes, Japan did.

    Well, now Japan and US are escalating it by sending in planes, just to say, “Haha, we don’t care about your ADIZ.”

    That’s just plain childish. ADIZ is not invalidated just because China decides not to intercept.

    China will announce more ADIZ in the future. Who the F* cares if these morons wants to do these dangerous arial dances just to try to annoy and upset China??

    You know what? China is mature. China can turn the other cheek. And China will not rescind the ADIZ just because of these silly stunts.

    In fact, China will only get more resolved, because if that’s all Japan and US can do to annoy China, China is not the weak desperate one.

  43. November 28th, 2013 at 07:42 | #43

    @ho hon
    This is the power of the mainstream press! They would only show selective info, if it is damning info it must at least benefit some of their establishment. If not it will never see the light of the day.

    Sorry for sounding so patronising but this is how things are run over there.

  44. November 28th, 2013 at 07:52 | #44

    @Black Pheonix
    Actually, it cuts both way. This mean that Chinese planes and ships are free to enter US and Japan’s ADIZ without informing them either.

    As we can see from Allen’s article, a large part of most countries’ ADIZ consist of international air space. It used to be US and Japanese planes wondering around China’s coast. In the future, I am sure China’s planes and vessels will enter their ADIZ frequently, and China DO NOT NEED to inform them.

    The USSR and Russia is the only countries to repeated enter US ADIZ, they never inform the US and US intercept them most of the time.

  45. N.M.Cheung
    November 28th, 2013 at 08:21 | #45

    So China decline to play the game of chicken by not sending planes to intercept U.S., Japanese, and South Korea planes in their newly announced ADIZ. The main stream media interpret that as a backing down of China. Apparently they are still ignorant of Sun Tze’s “Art of War”. I remember during the Cold War, U.S. regularly scramble jets to meet and escort Russia planes that intrude into her ADIZ but international airspace. It was a childish display of paranoia which accomplish nothing except wasted a lot of money and fuel. I am sure China could do the same thing by flying into Japan and South Korea’s ADIZ, or even U.S.’s ADIZ now she has an aircraft carrier that can move into Pacific. But what would that accomplish except to provoke tension and generate negative publicity. China announce the ADIZ as her right as any other country has that right. Just as Iran announce her right to enrich Uranium fuel up to 20% for reactors. U.S. has been flying spy planes outside 12 miles from Chinese coast for a long time and provoked the P3 collision incident. The neo-con was hoping to hype that incident to humiliate China but was derailed and bogged down in Iraq. China does not need to scramble jets to any planes that show up in her ADIZ. She only need to zero in her combat radar on the plane as her right and demand identification. The civilian planes may refuse to file flight plan with China, but I doubt they would refuse to identify themselves when challenged. China certainly will not play her opponents’ game on their term but on her own.

  46. Black Pheonix
    November 28th, 2013 at 11:33 | #46


    China is already sending patrol planes for “normal air patrols” on Thursday.

    Hey, that was the “status quo”.



    China is quite good at the “passive aggressive” game. Much better at it than the kneejerking US and Japan.

    Nations who so quick to show off their force at the slight sign of “ADIZ”, simply knows that they are weak and they need to maintain their “face” of power and might, for fear that if they don’t show off force, they are admitting defeat.

    Well, yes, China apparently could “rile” up Japan and US with merely an ADIZ.

    That’s when you know they know they are on the decline, and they desperately hope that with perhaps 1 more stronger show of force, China will back down.

    Well, it’s a long game, and China doesn’t have to call any bluffs. China has time.

  47. November 29th, 2013 at 07:10 | #47

    I try to find a picture of Taiwan’s ADIZ but to no avail. However, it covers an even larger area than mainland’s ADIZ. In fact, it includes Fujian inland and go further north too.

    Of course it will never ever be reported, because it will show that the Taiwanese are “aggressive” or that its territorial claim is the same as the mainland.

  48. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 08:30 | #48


    1 minor nuance: ROC’s ADIZ used to cover Fujian and other areas in South mainland China, back in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and some of 1970’s.

    Taiwan was forced to scale back their effective ADIZ area, because PRC increased its air force capability to patrol. Now, Taiwan’s effective ADIZ only gets to about mid point in the Taiwan Strait. They still claim ADIZ over Matsu Island, which is right next to mainland China, but they don’t fly patrol near it.

    Here is a good image of the Taiwan ADIZ:

    Hence, this has always been the historical way of ADIZ confrontation, one increases one’s capability and push others out via attrition.

    This is why Japan and US are so concerned and riled up, because they know they can’t maintain this ADIZ attrition against China in the long run, especially in areas so near to Chinese mainland coast line.

    China has several provinces with military bases within close reach of Diaoyu. Of course, China would have interest and right to patrol to that range.

    if Japan wants to continue their own patrol, let them. If they feel nervous about Chinese patrols, too bad.

    As Americans repeatedly tell China, “freedom of overflight”!!! Which now China has.

  49. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 08:35 | #49

    Here is a good article on the ADIZ a few years back in Taiwan:


  50. November 29th, 2013 at 10:19 | #50

    @Black Pheonix
    Can you repost the ADIZ, the link only show a pretty lady.
    The Nationalist forces has no choice but to have a larger ADIZ precisely because of Jinmen and Mazu. If we go back to history, the nationalist pretty much control the skies over most of southern China until 1958. The PLA used the 8.23 artillery duel as a cover and moved their air force into Fujian. Before that, there are no air bases in that province.

    The “middle line” was pretty much established after that incident. Except for spy planes, Nationalist air force combat planes stopped crossing the middle line. However, the mainland side allowed nationalist transport ships to cross the line for resupply operation. Incidentally, both sides declared victory in that conflict.

    The artillery duel was to go on sporadically on odd days and off on even days until 1979. It only stopped after the US switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979. So the US has always played a very big role in regards to development in the region.

  51. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 17:40 | #51


    The link works fine for me.

    Yes, the push-pull of the ADIZ across the strait should be good lesson as to how such things play out.

    I.E. the side closest, and the side with the most military capability can push the other side away and achieve localized dominance.

    China with its size and increased military capability will invariably reach parity with Japan and US, which means, Japan’s days of having dominant control of the Diaoyu area will be over, sooner or later.

    China had been very patient to trying to negotiate with Japan, with other ways.

    But Japan refuses to even acknowledge any dispute exists.

    Well, when there is no possibility of negotiations, then it does come down to some old fashion pushing and shoving, for one’s rightful place “in line”.

    Not to stereotype too much, but when it comes to pushing and shoving in a LINE, we Chinese know how to handle ourselves. Yes, Chinese may be disorganized at times, but even in disorder, there is order.

    (In contrast, Americans are notoriously bad in a real crowd. I only need to point out the kind of violence being done in many places on “Black Friday” today in US).

  52. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 18:21 | #52

    US fears China, but no one in China fears US.

    Interesting, but so true.


    Given that US sent 2 bombers (nuclear capable), Chinese population didn’t give much of a peep about US.

    US, nice try, but you can’t distract Chinese people like that. 1.3 billion Chinese may be unsophisticated, but they all know what the real problem is.

    That might have been pre planned, but it was obviously intended to rile up nationalism in China (from the American perspective). I mean, imagine if China flew 2 nuclear capable bombers that close to California??! Americans would have been up in arms about declaring war on China.

    Well, Chinese didn’t fall for that bit of international geopolitical “trolling”.

    Which must have left the US military 5-star baldies scratching their heads. “Why didn’t the Chinese get all riled up? We would have.”

    Because, it’s the long game, and the Chinese all knew it.

  53. Black Pheonix
    November 30th, 2013 at 12:27 | #53

    1 commonly perpetuated myth is that US returned the administrative control of Diaoyu islands to Japan in 1971-72, via the Okinawa Reversion Agreement of 1971.

    However, this is a vague assertion with no substance of facts. The only thing that asserted this was from a Japanese Book:

    ^ Takamine, Tsukasa (2012). Japan’s Development Aid to China, Volume 200: The Long-running Foreign Policy of Engagement. Routledge. p. 129. ISBN 0415352037. “The islands had temporarily come under American control after the Second World War, but the sovereignty over the islands, was handed over to Japan in 1972 with the reversion of Okinawa.However, the PRC and Taiwan governments both made a territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands, soon after the United Nation Economic Commission issued in 1969 a report suggesting considerable reserve of submarine oil and gas resources around the islands.”

    If one call up the actual treaty: http://www.niraikanai.wwma.net/pages/archive/rev71.html.

    There is no mentioning at all of the Diaoyu Islands or Senkaku in the treaty.

    “2. For the purpose of this Agreement, the term “the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands” means all the territories and their territorial waters with respect to which the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction was accorded to the United States of America under Article III of the Treaty of Peace with Japan other than those with respect to which such right has already been returned to Japan in accordance with the Agreement concerning the Amami Islands and the Agreement concerning Nanpo Shoto and Other Islands signed between the United States of America and Japan, respectively on December 24, 1953 and April 5, 1968.”

    And under Article II of the Treaty of Peace with Japan: http://www.taiwandocuments.org/sanfrancisco01.htm

    Article 3

    Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29deg. north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands), Nanpo Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island. Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters.

    The islands mentioned here are all EAST of Okinawa. None of these treaties mentioned Diaoyu or Senkaku

    So where the F did some folks get the idea that US turned over Diaoyu to Japanese Administration in 1971??!

  54. November 30th, 2013 at 14:12 | #54

    @Black Pheonix

    So where the F did some folks get the idea that US turned over Diaoyu to Japanese Administration in 1971??!

    Because the U.S. today says so? I mean seriously … from the Japanese and U.S. side, who gives the f_ck? As long as the U.S. today says they recognize Japanese administrative control over Diaoyu – whatever that means – that’s all that matters. This is important to the Japanese side because it is the only basis (and a rather flimsy one, as everyone can see) to claim Diaoyu and surrounding areas.

    Actually when you think about it … separate from the issue between Japan and China – what the fuck is administrative control … and why / when does it give rise to sovereignty? At the bottom of it, it is the notion of might makes right. Whoever controls now … gets to exert title … appealing to “international law” for the legitimacy it can give to confer to “title” to the powerful.

    I find the use of “administrative control” to establish sovereignty in territorial disputes – anywhere – repugnant, actually. But that’s just me. Maybe it’s not that bad … because I also do believe – not normatively per se but realistically through observations – might does make right time and time again throughout history.

  55. November 30th, 2013 at 14:24 | #55

    @Black Pheonix

    As Americans repeatedly tell China, “freedom of overflight”!!! Which now China has.

    Many may believe China is being stood up to now by the U.S. I believe so, too.

    But if one thinks long-term, strategically, what has happened perhaps is the best that can happen to China.

    First, China gets the ADIZ anyways – whatever happens. And as U.S. and Japanese airlines, despite the original stink, begins complying with Chinese ADIZ, China wins a tactical win.

    Second, Japanese and U.S. gov’t appears to continue to assert, in public at least, that they will fly through areas defined by China’s new ADIZ without complying with Chinese request for ID. That means that China gets that “freedom” to fly through Japanese and U.S. ADIZs as well. For the U.S., that may not be a big deal, because it is far away, and it will be some time until China will have a defense interest in the East Pacific. However, for Japan, that is a big deal. Japan has a huge ADIZ. Now the Chinese military effectively get a free pass to go anywhere it wants there – up to 12 nautical miles (and in some places even less, as discussed in another recent post). Of course, reality may be such that China cannot go all over Japanese ADIZ – or EEZ for that matter. Strategically, Japan controls a lot of little islands throughout the Pacific – courtesy of the U.S. The U.S. also controls a lot of it – courtesy of war spoils in defeating Imperial Japan, which had obtained those islands through might alone. So China does face a lot of strategic military hurdles.

    Still, as China gains capabilities – as technologies in general advances further – I believe China will be able to surmount these hurdles. Japan really created a blunder here, I think, by dissing China’s ADIZ so generically such that they discredit their own ADIZ.

    Oh well … I hope Chinese strategists – I am sure they have – will take note.

  56. Black Pheonix
    December 2nd, 2013 at 06:56 | #56


    The US response here (along with Japan) are the desperate moves with no teeth, legally or militarily.

    Aside from the empty gesture to show to Japan that US is somehow still an “ally”, even Japan would realize by now that US can’t do much to China.

    Yes, US may still be an “ally” to Japan, but what does that mean??

    *ON a side note, when US came out to “appreciate” Japan’s non-escalation, I chuckled, because even Japan can read between the lines. That’s not an appreciation, that’s a warning from US, to Japan, to TAME down their threats to China.

  57. Black Pheonix
    December 2nd, 2013 at 11:34 | #57

    You know, I really feel bad for Taiwan, being constantly pushed around by Japan and US (who is supposed to be an Ally of ROC).


    Shen explained that the area falls between longitude 123-124 degrees east. Japan asked Taiwan to provide flight plans through the overlap starting in 2009, and Taiwan has complied.

    Even so, Japanese self-defense planes have intercepted Taiwanese civil aircraft in the region, which she said “poses a great danger” to Taiwan’s flight control.

    *So, here is Japan, expanding its ADIZ INTO ROC’s ADIZ, and then asked ROC to file flight plans, AND then still sends up fighter planes to intercept /harass ROC civilian airlines!

    And China is the aggressive, unilateral, dangerous one??!

  58. Zack
    December 2nd, 2013 at 15:26 | #58

    @Black Pheonix
    what’s even more shameful is that a fair amount of Taiwanese are pretty pro-Japan due to the divide between the waishengren/KMT and the local Taiwanese who have that sort of superiority complex oft seen in singapore and hong kong towards the mainland Chinese.
    And where did this pro Japanese tilt come from? it came from the colonial legacy of the Japanese colonisation of Taiwan; seems the British don’t have a monopoly on making slaves after all

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