Home > Analysis > Making a Mockery of China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) – and the Precedents it Sets?

Making a Mockery of China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) – and the Precedents it Sets?

Wow, here is an update on the China ADIZ and the recent aftermath.  While I did expect U.S. and Japan to express some kind of reservation over China’s recent establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Seas, I had not anticipated the full sound and fury of the storm!

Within hours after China’s public announcement of the ADIZ, the U.S. decided to send two B-52s (unarmed) to the edge of China’s ADIZ on a putative long-planned, routine “training mission.”  When China did not scramble jets, the U.S. celebrated and congratulated themselves on a job well done!  Not to be outdone, Japan and S. Korea then publicly announced that they have also sent military (purportedly surveillance) planes into the area without properly alerting the Chinese side without incurring Chinese interception.  The Japanese also went to the extent of ordering its airlines (its two main airlines and all members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan) not to comply with China’s ADIZ (although Japan seems to have done a “U-Turn” for now).

One can find much written about China’s ADIZ.  In this post, I want to focus my commentaries on the indignation and concerns that many in the U.S., Japan – even S. Korea – have expressed toward China’s establishment of an ADIZ.

Before all that, I think it’s useful to provide some further clarification on China’s ADIZ.   First a better map than what one might find typically online.

Clearer map of China's Air Defense Identification Zone

Clearer map of China’s Air Defense Identification Zone

There may have been some confusions initially (including from Peter Lee, whom I quoted extensively in my prior post) over the exact extent of China’s ADIZ – whether it covers Diaoyutai or not. It does.  Here is a map with coordinates that hopefully will clarify such confusions.

Second, I want to give details of what exactly is required for planes to identify themselves with China’s ADIZ.  Per this xinhua report reporting on the announcement of the ADIZ:

The Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:

First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.

Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:

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.

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.

Fourth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

Fifth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the explanation of these rules.

Sixth, these rules will come into force at 10 a.m. November 23, 2013.

Now, to my commentary.  James Fallows of the Atlantic sort of made my job easier by providing a decent summary of the main concerns over China’s establishment of the ADIZ.  Below are excerpts of his summaries, followed by my response.

Unilateral Step

  • It is a unilateral step, announced suddenly and apparently without consultation with two countries whose civilian and military aircraft will be most affected, the US and Japan.
  • It includes a contested maritime area, notably the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and thus can be seen as a deliberate effort to change the status quo, even a provocation.

This seems to be most commonly  indignation expressed by the U.S. and Japan.  It is rampantly expressed in the media. It is part of the statement released from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressing grave concerns about China’s ADIZ.

The problem with the “unilateral” concern is that ADIZs have always been unilaterally defined.  Of the twenty or so ADIZs around the world, which one is the result of careful international negotiation?  There is no UN Convention on ADIZs (as compared with say the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS for short)  because ADIZs arise from each nation’s assessment of its defense needs.  ADIZs are projected into a littoral nation’s adjacent international airspace to facilitate defense of the nation’s territory.

It is important to stress that ADIZ does not represent extensions of a nation’s airspace (territory), and as such a nation doesn’t exercise exclusive claims over the area.  A nation enforcing an ADIZ thus does not have the right to force airplanes to change course or to refute access to the ADIZ – unless, under the international convention of national self defense – the airplane, for example, is determined to harbor hostile intent and presents an imminent threat to the nation.  When an airplane declines to follow with the protocols set for an ADIZ, and is assessed to not be a threat, the most the nation administering the ADIZ can do typically is to track it – which may include scrambling jets if it so deems.

China’s ADIZ comports with all these characteristics of an ADIZ.  As Spokesman of Chinese Defense Ministry, Yang Yujun, clarified:

The purpose of East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, is to safeguard territorial and airspace security. It’s also a necessary measure to effectively exercise China’s right of self defense.

The identification zone is not a territorial airspace. It’s an area demarcated outside territorial airspace, and to establish an early warning mechanism and ensure our air security. It does not mean the expansion of territorial air space; it helps to improve the effectiveness of safeguarding China’s territorial airspace

But All Flights Must Report to Chinese Authorities, Not Just the Ones Destined to China

  • Its ‘rules’ demanding that aircraft identify themselves and obey Chinese direction on flight paths seem to apply to all aircraft in the zone and not only aircraft en route to China…

[This] point … is one I should have highlighted more clearly yesterday. The borders of the United States are also ringed by ADIZs. But here the ADIZ rules — mainly, a requirement for a pre-filed flight plan showing who you are and where you’re going — apply only to planes headed to destinations in the United States. They don’t affect planes passing through en route to somewhere else, say from Canada to the Caribbean. The new Chinese claim is that even planes merely passing through must comply with their ADIZ requirements.

Well, Fallows appears to be wrong on this point.  As noted in this wiki entry, the U.S. reglation that authorizes the setting up of ADIZ is C.F.R. 99.11, and it appears to define the scope of ADIZ broadly, without limiting identification to flights destined to the U.S.

C.F.R. 99.11(a) stipulates that:

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.

While the Navy’s Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations does appear to restrict application of ADIZ to only commercial aircraft intending to enter U.S. sovereign airspace to report, in practice the U.S. military does compel all aircraft to identify all flights that enter the zone to identify themselves under the constant threats of the “scrambling of fighter interceptors.” 1

In any case, notwithstanding the Navy’s handbook, whatever restirctions the NAVY places arises out of “the right of a nation to establish reasonable conditions of entry into its territory,” not on the right of nations to self defense (e.g. U.N. Charter Article 51), on which ADIZs generally, and C.F.R. 99.11(a) specifically, are based.

But even if the U.S. were to abruptly determine that its regulations on entry into the country and nation are coincident and change its policy to limit its ADIZ to apply to only inbounding flights – what of that?  Would Japan and S. Korea follow suit?  I don’t think so.

Such changes would merely reflect the specific defense needs of the U.S.   It should impose nothing on China.  Given U.S. geography, most flights that fly nearby the U.S. coast would be entering or passing over the U.S.  Thus most all flights would still, due to U.S. geography, report before under even if the policy only were to require in-bounding flights to register.

China’s geography is such that many flights do fly near to important industrial centers – without entering it.  China’s defense needs (and S. Korea’s and Japan’s, too, perhaps) would be such that requiring all non-threatening flights to properly identify themselves would greatly help it to carry out self defense – in the most transparent, and least obstructive manner possible.  Every nation must meet its own unique set of challenges.  The circumstances in N. America and E. Asia are different.  Nothing wrong with that.

Undesirable Security Outcomes

  • It looks like a pretext for one of two undesirable security outcomes. If foreign aircraft now regularly obey the new Chinese rules, we will see precedents set for the unilateral expansion of Chinese authority over contested maritime territory. Alternately, if foreign aircraft contest or ignore the Chinese zone and a dangerous or deadly incident occurs (such as a collision or a forceful encounter), then China will have prepared the way to absolve itself of legal or moral blame, making it easier to use the incident as a justification to escalate the crisis if China so chooses.

There are several points here, all unfounded.

First is the notion that China is setting the precedent for nations to unilaterally declare ADIZs over “contested maritime territory.”  Actually, the precedent has been  long established – by Japan over the last few decades.  From the wikipedia entry on ADIZ:

Japan has an ADIZ that overlaps most of its Exclusive Economic Zone. Its eastern border was set up after World War II by the US military at 123° degrees east. This resulted in only the eastern half of Yonaguni Island being part of Japan’s ADIZ and the western half being part of Taiwan’s ADIZ. Thus on June 25, 2010 Japan extended its ADIZ around this island 22 km westwards. As this led to an overlapping with ROC’s ADIZ and the government of Republic of China expressed its “regret” over Japan’s move.[1] Regarding the coast of mainland China, Japan’s ADIZ has a distance of 130 km at its closest point.[2]

Second, there is the notion that China must respect contested “maritime territory.”  I don’t like the term “maritime territory” because I may cause severe misunderstandings and miscalculations by Japan and S. Korea in the future.

In the case of Japan, throughout the years, it has expanded its ADIZ to incorporate today most of what it considers to be its EEZ.

Japan's EEZ

Japan’s EEZ

Under the UNCLOS, EEZ confer nations special rights to exclusively exploit marine resources up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline. Where the EEZ zones of nations overlap, the nations would need to negotiate for a proper boundary, of such a boundary is deemed necessary. But EEZ rights do not confer air rights, and China’s ADIZ (or anyone else’s for that matter) cannot be based on the assertion of EEZ.  Conversely, the assertion of an ADIZ does not confer any rights below – territorial or EEZ.

As we go forward, I hope Japan understands that.  China can in the future freely, legitimately, and unilaterally expand its ADIZ to not only overlap Japan’s ADIZ (which by its very nature are projected out into international airspace), but to over Japan’s EEZ – regardless of whether the EEZ is contested or not.

In the case of S. Korea, it is curious to note that though S. Korea’s response to China’s ADIZ has been muted compared to the response from the U.S. and Japan, S. Korea nevertheless protested about China’s inclusion of Ieodo, also known as Suyan Rock or Socotra Rock (a group of underwater reefs near S. Korea and China), in China’s ADIZ.  But as China quickly reminded S. Korea, under current international norms, a nation has no right to “maritime territory” (i.e. open waters, submerged rocks, reefs) per se, only to “terrestrial territory” (i.e. islands, rocks).  And by that standard, China and S. Korea currently has no territorial disputes in the East China Seas.

To set the record straight with S. Korea, the disputed Suyan Rock is not a matter of territorial dispute, but of EEZ dispute. But since EEZ rights do not confer air rights (or any sorts), and further China’s ADIZ is not based on an assertion of EEZ below, China’s ADIZ is not incompatible with S. Korea’s claim to Suyan Rocks per se.  While China and S. Korea have yet to reach agreement regarding the EEZ status of the region surrounding Suyan Rock or Ieodo (a negotiation that stopped in 2008), that dispute should not no bearing to the establishment of any ADIZ.

As for the issue of overlapping ADIZ, the fact of overlap arise because of the geographical proximity of China and S. Korea. Both nations should mutually recognize each other’s defense needs in the same area.  Overlapping areas of ADIZ does not arise from or change the status of competing EEZ claims below.

Not surprisingly, China quickly notified S. Korea that it will not modify its ADIZ to clear the area of Suyan Rock even if the status of EEZ in the surrounding area have yet to be clarified. 

Third, regarding the point of China absolving itself of moral or legal blame should an incident, that complaint actually can be broadly applied to all nations administering ADIZ, not just China.

The purpose of ADIZ, as already pointed several times, is to facilitate national self defense.  Usually, very little is demanded except a simple identification of aircraft and conveying of its intentions.  Before China established its ADIZ, ADIZ was rarely made a big international political issue – and for good reasons.  The cost of compliance is so low, and the benefit so high (i.e., the avoidance of potential loss of human lives due to avoidable incidents lost) that few bother to complain.

So now the Japanese government has ordered its airlines to disregard ADIZ.  To me, that is not just insanely stupid, but strategically stupid as well.  China can easily retaliate,too, by ordering all its airlines to disregard the Japanese ADIZ.  Tit for tat!  And should American airlines also do that, China can also do the same to the U.S.    But what does that accomplish?  I don’t think the Japanese military or U.S. military will start shooting down Chinese commercial flights, but I also don’t think Chinese airlines will feel that safe flying around either, making such boneheaded moves as to disobey regulations that are set up to facilitate national defense and flight safety and that are so easy to meet.

The truth is that even if Japanese airlines disregard the ADIZ, China will probably be fine.  China can probably readily identify those as commercial jets and assess their threat levels.  But of course, there is always a chance that mis-identifications occur and China scramble jets.  When jets are scrambled, there are always chances for incidents.  The defense needs of China are dictated by China’s geography.  They won’t change even if you remove the ADIZ.  The purpose of the ADIZ is to make it easier for China to identify risk, and if the process, lower the risks for unnecessary incidents for all.

Sovereign is as sovereign does

Fallows also find the argument that China is expanding sovereignty over adjacent space through the establishment of the ADIZ persuasive, citing this comment.

Your article about China’s ADIZ didn’t explicitly recognize a major component of the move. Namely, in international law a major way by which states acquire sovereignty over an area is by actually exercising sovereignty (i.e. administering) over it for a “reasonable” period of time and especially having other states acquiesce to its administration. As one famous court opinion put it:

“The modern international law of the acquisition (or attribution) of territory generally requires that there be: an intentional display of power and authority over the territory, by the exercise of jurisdiction and state functions, on a continuous and peaceful basis.”

Even if it has little real practical effect for airliners, by having them identify themselves to China Beijing will be exercising sovereignty over the area and can claim that others are acquiescing to its claims of sovereignty. This is why the U.S. and Japan immediately announced they wouldn’t comply with China’s demands and the U.S. is openly defying the order already.

Of course Japan has an ADIZ over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands but at the very least by establishing its own ADIZ (and patrolling the waters below) China is chipping away at Japan’s int’l legal claim of sovereignty. This is also why China has made a point of increasing its patrols in the South China Sea and is acquiring the necessary capabilities to constantly patrol the skies over the South China Sea.

I find this argument hogwash.  If ADIZ can be used as a pretext or a prelude to taking sovereignty over a nation’s adjoining airspace or territories, the practice of establishing ADIZ would be inherently illegal under international law.  As noted before, all ADIZs today are acknowledged to exist in internationally-recognized international airspace over international water.  The establishment of ADIZ does not put into doubt the status of those areas – airspace or sea – as international zones.

Further to boot, China has repeatedly repudiated the exercising of any sovereignty over the airspace or the seas of East China Sea on the basis of its ADIZ. China has also made very clear the purpose of its ADIZ.  The idea that China is using ADIZ as some sort of tool to clandestinely expand its territory is just plain absurd.  ADIZ just doesn’t allow that.  One might as well accuse China of flying a satellite in space as a ploy to grab the airspace and territories below.

However, this does not mean the establishment of ADIZ has no relevance to contested islands such as Diaoyu.  ADIZ has never been unilaterally declared by one nation inside the airspace of a third party nation because such a practice would as a breach of the third nation’s sovereignty.  Thus when China establishes its ADIZ over Diaoyu, it does so on the basis that no other third nations control the airspace or territories within the areas defined by its ADIZ.  It is explicitly refuting Japan’s sovereignty over Diaoyu.

But is that really a surprise? Is there really a change in “status quo” here?

China’s establishment of an ADIZ that includes the airspace over Diaoyu seems to be me just a natural and legitimate result of that fact that China does not recognize Japanese sovereignty Diaoyu.  But also very critically, the ADIZ per se does not extend China’s claim over Diaoyu any bit.

If Japan is so disgusted with an ADIZ that covers their territory, they can ignore the part of the ADIZ that covers Diaoyu – but to ignore the wholesale the entire ADIZ, when China has expressed legitimate defense basis for it, is stupid.

If you are of the camp that a nation should always restrain from defining ADIZ over disputed territories (i.e. islands), then you should also be of the camp that Japan has been aggressively provoking its neighbors for the last few decades.  What gave Japan, for example, the right to extend its ADIZ (multiple times over the last few decades, as noted above) to cover disputed islands after disputed islands?  What gives it the right today?

And you must be incensed by Japan’s unilateral actions last year to unilateral “nationalize” Diaoyu by “purchasing” it, as this Chinese reporter noted in an official U.S. press conference, because unlike ADIZ which does not advance one nation’s claim one bit, Japan’s “purchase” was meant explicitly to advance that claim to the exclusivity of all others.

A Chinese Caribbean

Fallows seem to be impressed with the imagery that China is creating a “Chinese Caribbean” by citing this comment:

Obviously as you point out it’s opaque and we can only speculate to Zhongnanhai’s [rough equivalent of the White House] motivations but I think a helpful way to think about is their view/ambition for the East China Sea is that it is/should be a Chinese Caribbean.
Think about the US role there in the late 19th century – the Venezuela thing/ Roosevelt Corollary/ getting the British out). Which is the tack I would take if I were sitting in Beijing.

This is rubbish.  First, the ADIZ by definition is about creating transparency, not opaquess.  By providing a channel by which friendly planes identify themselves, ADIZ reduces chances for mis-identification and misunderstanding.  China’s ADIZ is an attempt to make transparent important aspects of China’s defense protocols.

Second, note how this allegation is all based on pure fear – a fear based on U.S. history of the 19th century to boot, not reality.

There is no Chinese Caribbean today.   China has never expressed any intention of creating a Chinese Caribbean.  However, there appears to be a U.S. Caribbean in the East China Seas.  China’s rise means that the era of unquestioned U.S. dominance since WWII in the Western Pacific may be soon be over.  That strikes terror at the hearts of many.  But to the extent sch fear is justified, think how much the Chinese have to endure today’s very real U.S. Caribbean – one that appears increasingly unsympathetic – even hostile – to Chinese interests and concerns.

Ultimately, I can’t answer the question whether China is eventually going to set up a Chinese Caribbean, because I don’t know the future.  But I do know the Chinese are serious about their notion of a peaceful rise.  I also know that China today is open and receptive and willing to embrace the world – with all its differences, dangers, hopes and opportunities.  However, if the U.S. appears to diss and mock Chinese interests and concerns at every turn, China will have no choice but to turn the table some time….

A generally more emboldened China

Fallows ended his article with reference to a comment expressing fears of a more “emboldened” China

I would draw your attention to the Defense Ministry spokesman’s response to the question regarding if China intended to set up ADIZ’s in other areas (e.g., the South China Seas): “China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.”

I believe that the central question that this new provocation raises is what accounts for it? Of course, longstanding tension over the Daioyu/Senkaku issue has been rekindled and that offers a proximate explanation; the arrival of Abe into office in Japan, another.

But what I fear we may be seeing is a generally more emboldened China. There is a lengthening bread crumb trail of recent PRC activity that leads me to this observation (not yet a firm conclusion).

I’m not referencing the (still) ongoing detentions and boardings that occur with regularity over the Spratleys, the Paracels, and Scarborough Shoals, but to chest-thumping behavior such as the recent Chinese news releases covering the capability of the PLAN’s SSBNs to lay waste to much of the western United States with 20 nuclear weapons. Yes, it did come to us via the Global Times, and yes, I’m well aware that even Beijing is rapidly losing its ability to control much of what comes out of China’s increasingly pluralistic press. That said, Beijing most certainly has proven itself capable of fully controlling what is being uttered in public about its nuclear weapons capabilities.

To be clear, the concern is not on the substance – or even veracity in this latter case of the story – the Xia class SSBNs with their JL-1 SLBMs remain the Chinese maritime equivalent of the Edsel, while the JIN-class (094) SSBNs (with the JL-2 SLBMs) are not yet on operational patrol. So, again, why the chest thumping?

Well, here’s to hoping that we aren’t witnessing the emergence of a new hawkish China.

In my view, the term phrase of “emboldened” captures the mindset of those who utter and those sympathetic to this concern.   The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “embolden” to mean “to instill with boldness or courage.”  Why should the Chinese not be emboldened about going about their existence?  What are people so worried when China is “emboldened” to define and take charge of its destiny?

To me, what has been wrong with the world the last century or two was a depressed or discouraged or whipped-down China – in fact, a demoralized and intimated rest of the world.  The way to the future is to for China – and rest of the world – to be emboldened take charge of the future, to be emboldened to rise again, and to seek a future on her own terms – not to be cowed into a submissive mentality.

The rest of the concluding comment Fallows cited shows how moronic one can get with a deranged mindset.  For example, despite ADIZs being internationally recognized as an internationally acceptable ways of facilitating national defense, despite the fact that Japan, S. Korea, ROC (Taiwan) have it – despite China clearly announcing its reasons for an ADIZ, the reader – one “with a lot of experience in the defense world” to boot – still just doesn’t get why China need one.  He would then characterize Chinese attempt at preserve territorial integrity as somehow aggressive immoral acts.  To top it off, he would describe Chinese upgrading of strategic nuclear weapons as “chest thumping.”

Wait a minute.  Excuse me…  Chest thumping??

The Chinese have only a small nuclear arsenal, around the size of U.K. or France.  It has a clear no-first-use policy. And China’s nuclear policy does not depend on “mutually assured destruction,” but only on limited “assured retaliation.”

Let’s be rational here.  Today, China is still trying to close the gap in military capabilities with the West.  China’s defense budget is also only a fraction of the U.S.  NATO countries (i.e. not counting Japan and S. Korea) spends over 70% of the world’s military budget.  But even that underestimates the military hegemony the U.S. and its allies hold over the world as the bulk of the remaining 30% account for budget are spread thinly across third world nations who buy from the West outdated military equipment at inflated prices.

If what the China is doing today is “Chest Thumbing,” then what have the U.S. and its allies have been doing the last half a century or so?  An “Orgy Feast”?

Big Picture

So now that the U.S. has tried to mock a mockery of China’s ADIZ, where does that leave us?

One might answer it this way.  Let’s say the U.S. and Japan gets their way, and China comes out tomorrow apologizing that it has set up an ADIZ and rescinds it immediately.  Does that mean China would stop patrolling the East China Seas?  No.  China will still have valid defense interests there.  It will still patrol the area.  It will still respond to threats there.  As China rises, it will demand the U.S. to stop activities against China that the U.S. would consider hostile if it were it conducted on U.S. shores.

None of this will change.

The only thing that changes is that China will now have to more actively patrol the airspace to ensure and that opportunities for misunderstandings are increased.  The U.S. has publicly said many times that it seeks closer military contact between the two nations.  The ADIZ is one channel for that communication – for the U.S. (and Japan) side to identify routinely non-threatening flights to China when operating in strategically areas that are close to China’s strategic eastern coast.

But instead of taking the opportunity to build trust, the U.S. flew 2 B-52 bombers (unarmed, yes) and publicly made a boneheaded mockery of China.

Truth be told, if the Navy’s Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations referenced above is to be trusted, the U.S. does not recognize the application of ADIZ to military aircraft, unless specifically agreed to.  Per Handbook.

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.

If so, U.S. and China ought to – as part of building “a new type of great power relationship” – to come to an agreement based on true acceptance of China’s defense concerns.  Currently, China appears to pushing back through semi-legal administrative means – e.g. EEZ (China claims foreign military cannot conduct surveillance in its EEZ without Chinese approval) and ADIZ (China requires all flight within certain area to properly identify themselves or face defensive maneuvers by the Chinese air force).  And the U.S. have pushed back in both instances.

I really don’t think the U.S. should continue to thwart China’s overtures.  Before not too long, in a few decades perhaps, China will achieve military parity with the U.S.  By then, it would not need to to push for EEZ rights and ADIZ to advance its interests.   It will have the means to flout Japanese EEZ (Japan, take note.  You should be on China’s side on the EEZ debate over military surveillance) and U.S. ADIZs routinely, should China deem that useful to advance its interests.

If the U.S. truly cares for long-term peace, it should seek broadly for what is just and fair – not what is politically expedient and convenient.  The showdown with China over its ADIZ is not the way to go.


  1. Richard J. Butler, Major, USAF (April 2001). “Sovereignty and Protective Zones in Space and the Appropriate Command and Control of Assets”. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  1. N.M.Cheung
    November 29th, 2013 at 10:49 | #1

    China’s setting up of ADIZ mainly announce that any aircraft entering her ADIZ either follow her rules or risk consequences. China does not have to intercept those aircrafts, if she can identify those as harmless she can monitor those via radar. For civilian airliners they serve no purpose not to file flight plans other than intentionally trying to antagonize China as Japanese government is trying. The flight plan of all airlines already been file with countries from and to and in between. It’s only an extra e-mail to Beijing. It will avoid incident like the Korean airline that was shot down in Russia when its transponder/radio communication failed. For military and spy planes U.S. has dominance at present, but reciprocity will occur soon when China grows farther. At present China will use the interceptions/surveillances as training exercises for national defense. It’s the U.S. and Japan reactions that’s interesting for their paranoid.

  2. Zack
    November 29th, 2013 at 14:54 | #2

    US leaders are merely setting themselves up for a painful and humiliating experiences months or even years later down the track, ditto for the japs and traitorous koreans

  3. ersim
    November 29th, 2013 at 16:40 | #3

    Having lived half of my adult life in the U.S., learned quite quickly both the government and the people of the U.S. are not the smartest people in the world. Being like spoiled rotten brats with their high tech “toys” suppose to impress the whole world by behaving like thugs and bullies. A Neanderthal is alot smarter than they are.

  4. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 17:10 | #4

    US “advise” civilian airlines to follow China’s ADIZ rules.

    Which is to say, follow US’s ADIZ rules when going to China.


  5. Black Pheonix
    November 29th, 2013 at 17:13 | #5

    And I don’t know why Western media felt the need to suddenly question “what is China’s intention in the ADIZ?”

    Why didn’t they ever ask this question when US or Japan fenced off their massive ADIZ??

    If they don’t understand ADIZ, then they should go back to their own governments and ask the very long over due question, and then perhaps ask China, if Chinese intentions are different.

  6. N.M.Cheung
    November 29th, 2013 at 21:25 | #6

    I was looking at the comments section in NYT and find it humorous the ignorance level and chest pounding, most have no idea what’s an ADIZ, assuming it’s a grab for international airspace. I thought her readers are at least educated and well informed. I imagine the general population is much worse. My mistake.

  7. scl2
    November 29th, 2013 at 22:43 | #7

    Neither the U.S. nor Japan could really mock China while their own ADIZs are breached by Russia and China all the time.

  8. Zack
    November 30th, 2013 at 05:54 | #8

    @Black Pheonix
    looks like the US backed down after all, seems they’re not all too keen on starting a shooting war with China just yet.
    Not saying much for the japs though

  9. Black Pheonix
    November 30th, 2013 at 08:04 | #9


    Now, US “back tracks” by saying, they are only “advising” the civilian airlines to follow China’s rules, but that doesn’t represent any US official position.

    What a load of BS.

    Same kind of 2 faced double talk they always do between China and Japan. (Come to think of it, pretty much on every international issue).

    US “apologizes”, but not officially. (Statements of Regrets, etc.)

    yada, yada, yada….

  10. December 3rd, 2013 at 10:58 | #11

    Some Taiwanese commentators gave their view on the ADIZ


  11. December 3rd, 2013 at 23:44 | #12

    Just watched the commentary. Wow, I didn’t realize Japan in the 70s expanded her ADIZ to within 130km to major city in Zhejiang. Man, these people are playing with fire! I heard James Fallows on NPR saying the resentment in China towards Japan is manufactured by the Chinese government. How can he said that with a straight face. Unbelievable.

  12. December 4th, 2013 at 09:11 | #13

    Exactly! One only read about evil expansionist China in mainstream news. Who exactly is doing the brain washing with purposeful misinformation.

    In that regard, I actually feel China internal propaganda is superior since it deals with more hard fact and kept the average Chinese better informed than their counterparts in “the west”.

  13. December 8th, 2013 at 05:54 | #14

    Talk about a purely symbolic / political move to expand ADIZ based on territorial contentions? South Korea decides to expand its adiz southward to cover contested islands/rocks/EEZ…


    Anyways, so I wonder what is the defense rationale is for just a southern projection … to cover disputed islands/EEZ/rocks?

    From Korea Times:


    The world’s most populous country surprised both Korea and Japan by declaring an ADIZ, which overlaps with those of Korea and Japan, without any prior consultation.

    “While dealing with the issue as an urgent agenda item, Baek expressed regret and asked for a rearrangement (of China’s ADIZ),” a defense ministry spokesman said at a press conference after the bilateral meeting. “However, the Chinese side responded negatively to our request.”

    Baek revealed Korea’s plan to expand its own ADIZ in the near future, while expressing concerns about the heightened tension between the two countries.

    The major bone of contention is the fact that the new ADIZ covers Ieodo, a submerged rock on which Korean built an ocean research station in 2003.

    As the rock formation in the East China Sea is far closer to Korea than China, Seoul has been confident that it belongs to it despite the U.N. convention that no country can claim territorial rights to a submerged reef.

    If China’s new ADIZ becomes effective, however, any Korean aircraft flying into the ADIZ will be required to report flight plans to Chinese authorities in advance, even helicopters flying to the Ieodo facility’s helipad.

    The two’s conflict over the ADIZ caused big problems for Seoul, which has tried to strengthen ties with China at a time when its relations with Japan worsen due to differences in historical perception.

    Spearheaded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese leaders have not shown any repentance for the country’s past misdeeds, prompting Korean President Park Geun-hye not to meet with him.

    The problem of S. Korea’s move is the symbolism it carries. They believe Suyan rocks (Leido) is theirs – and the fact that they have to notify China to fly there plainly incense them.

    I get that. But that’s a problem only if they think of Leido as their territory – when it is not. Leido is submerged and under current international conventions, there is no legal basis for nations to claim maritime territory per se (claim over the seas).

    The fact that S. Korea would have to notify China on flights to disputed EEZ regions is a reflection of the proximity of their nations … not because of Korean concession to China regarding the status of Leido – or more correctly, the waters surroudning Leido.

    And as for EEZ – the right solution may not necessarily be to draw a boundary – but to agree to jointly share….

    If S. Korea wants to expand its ADIZ for national defense reasons, I wish they would have expanded in all directions. There is definitely a legitimate reason for doing that … since modern jets fly a lot faster than before…

    It didn’t because the U.S. won’t allow it … and I don’t think S. Korea is in a position to challenge Japan despite S. Korea’s new found prosperity.

    If S. Korea wants to expand its ADIZ for political reasons of Leido … fine. But it is an abuse of ADIZ. ADIZ should be for defense needs over its territory, not to assert influence over EEZ.

    Given the cordial nature of the relation between S. Korea and China, in the end, this is no big deal. S. Korea and China -if they openly communicate and maintain friendly relations – can have 100% overlap of ADIZ … and there should still be no problem. ADIZ is not territory claim … it’s only an identification of interests of areas relevant for a nation’s self defense, and S. Korea and China legitimately have interests in similar / overlapping regions due to their geographical proximity…

    One interesting fallout from this: about that Japanese push to assess whether China’s ADIZ (an ADIZ in the E. China Seas) possesses a “threat” to commercial flight … S. Korea’s overlapping ADIZ will make that even more complicated for the Japanese…

  14. Black Pheonix
    December 8th, 2013 at 06:27 | #15


    Actually, I think South Korea’s move was more directed at Japan than any thing else. They basically included a bunch of smaller islands into their ADIZ, which were still under dispute with Japan.

    Of course, South Korea would use China as an excuse to do so, but I don’t think China would make a fuss about it.

    I personally think there is a secret deal under the table between China and South Korea, to acknowledge each other’s expanded ADIZ’s informally, and that would leave Japan out as odd man.

    Now, both China and South Korea’s ADIZ’s overlap Japan’s, contesting Japan’s claims on islands (and the gas fields).

    Now what would Japan and US say about that?

    (That might have been China and South Korea’s plan all along. Remember, China had actually secretly informed South Korea that it was going to expand ADIZ DAYS ahead of every one else. And South Korea didn’t tell their US Ally about it!!)

    What was that? China to South Korea: We are going to expand ADIZ in a few days (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

  15. December 8th, 2013 at 06:37 | #16

    @Black Pheonix

    Actually, I think South Korea’s move was more directed at Japan than any thing else.

    Maybe … but it’s still not that apparent to me.

    Now regarding flights to leido. What does S. Korea expect its ADIZ to do? That it somehow gives them legal cover to challenge Chinese fighters over Leido?


    Leido is in international waters (EEZ not withstanding). Both China and S. Korea (Japan, too, technically) can send military jets there without violating any International laws / conventions. So – whether there is only one ADIZ (Chian’s), or two (China and S. Korea), or none – China and S. Korea military could be there without violating any laws / conventions.

    The key here is shared / mutual understanding. As long as both sides talk, then routine flights should not alarm the other side to scramble jets, etc.

    This is true – with … or without – ADIZ. ADIZ doesn’t do anything in that regard. ADIZ should not really be politicized … I guess that’s the basis of my complaint about S. Korea’s move to expand on the basis of Leido.

  16. Black Pheonix
    December 8th, 2013 at 06:40 | #17
  17. Black Pheonix
    December 8th, 2013 at 06:56 | #18


    South Korea actually thought about extending its ADIZ a while back, but US pushed back (because of Japan).

    Now, US has nothing to say, Japan is left out.

  18. December 8th, 2013 at 10:03 | #19

    Japan forces have been harassing Taiwanese commercial planes which flew into its self declared ADIZ for a long time. It not only includes interception but also jamming of the airliners signal. However, no western press would ever published this proof of Japanese aggression.


  19. December 8th, 2013 at 10:18 | #20


    That’s really a flagrant violation of “international law” – and proof that Japan treats ADIZ more than ADIZ – but as territorial expansion… And it has done all that unilaterally….

    And highlights the weakness of Taiwan – i.e. ROC. This is the primary reason why even though my childhood allegiance is to ROC as the official representative of China, it has faltered as an adult. It’s a joke….

  20. December 8th, 2013 at 11:02 | #21

    Yes, it is really sad. And there is nothing Taiwan can do short of protesting. The Japanese regards area within 12 nautical miles of the Diaoyu as Japanese territory. I believe this is the area that they are most aggressive. However, officially ROC considered this Chinese territory as well.

    In fact, the ROC has stationed troop there briefly after WWII. This is more a symbol of ownership than anything else.

    They do act tough when public opinion on the island warrants it. Taiwanese Coast Guard shooting at their Japanese counterparts: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208305/Senkaku-Islands-Japan-Taiwan-boats-attack-spray.html

  21. Black Pheonix
    December 10th, 2013 at 07:05 | #22


    ROC unfortunately lost US’s backing in this long time ago.

    Heck, I would even go so far as to say, Japan is (will be) US’s 1st choice for an Asian “ally”/lapdog.

    US (among others) rewarded Japan for its help in WWI, by giving Japan German colonies in China.

    When Japan invaded Manchuria, and then later much of China, slaughtered Chinese civilians, US only gave some threats and embargoes.

    If Japan didn’t attack US in Pearl Harbor, I would bet US might have let Japan keep roaming around in Asia, (as long as Japan paid lipservice to US).

    We are only seeing the trend continue now. US doesn’t want “allies” in Asia, it just wants lapdogs, and Japan is that favorite one for the near conceivable future.

    (Similarly, US doesn’t need allies in Europe, just UK as another lapdog).

    (and in Middle East, and in Africa).

  22. December 10th, 2013 at 12:39 | #23

    @Black Pheonix
    “When Japan invaded Manchuria, and then later much of China, slaughtered Chinese civilians, US only gave some threats and embargoes.”

    Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. At that time US, British, French, Dutch companies continue to sell arms, scrap metal, mineral and other resources to Japan. It didn’t stop until 1941 when it is clear that the Japanese has becomes a threat to their colonies in Asia. The western embargo wasn’t to help China but their self interest.

    In 1937, when the ROC hired Clair Chennault to be their advisor. The US state department actually try to stop him from going to China. But of course, unless you dig deep enough. You will never find all that. You will all hear how the west has helped China resist Japan’s aggression.

    Yes, Japan was rewarded with Germany’s concession despite Chinese protest after WWI. The only country to propose returning its concession was the Soviet Union. And people wonder why such a large number of Chinese patriots and intellectuals were attracted to the Communist ideology.

  23. ersim
    December 10th, 2013 at 18:23 | #24

    @Black Pheonix
    The U.S. rewarded Japan even before World War I. There was the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 which Japan was winning. The U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt mediated out of fear Japan would target the Phillipines, a U.S. colony, “acquired” after the war with Spain in 1898. Later on the U.S. and Japan had talks which led to the Taft-Katsura Agreement which the U.S. allowed Japan to take over Korea in 1910 in exchange Japan respected the U.S. colony of the Phillipines. So since after the Russo-Japanese War, Japan has been the U.S. lapdog and not only at the expense of China, worse, the colonization of Korea, a sovereign nation with an ancient history, as well.

  24. Black Pheonix
    December 12th, 2013 at 13:17 | #25


    South Korea reverses policy, and allows SK Airlines to file flight plans with China.


    Guess what? China got pretty much what they wanted and expected out of this. Japan is the odd man out.

  25. December 13th, 2013 at 15:38 | #26

    @Black Pheonix

    I still don’t understand why you keep signaling Japan is the odd man out.

    I personally think Japan has played this ADIZ thing (blown it out of proportion) beautifully – without attracting attention to itself.

    And as I noted in the post, Japan airlines are complying with the protocols set out in (here is another article) China’s announcement of its ADIZ.

    What’s more difficult to understand is S. Korea’s stance expressed in this article.

    On Wednesday, the Korea Joongang Daily reported that, “The Korean Navy yesterday launched a joint sea and air military drill near the waters surrounding Ieodo” Rock. The report said the drill consisted of two P-3C maritime patrol aircraft as well as one of the ROK Navy’s three Aegis destroyers.

    The Korea Joongang Daily report also said that the two P-3Cs, which are used in anti-submarine operations as well as for maritime surveillance, crossed into Japan’s ADIZ with the prior approval of Tokyo.

    This fact suggests that South Korea and Japan are boosting their cooperation in the wake of China unilaterally declaring the East China Sea ADIZ two weekends ago. Seoul and Tokyo have long been at odds over their own territorial dispute as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments about Japan’s actions in the region during the first half of the 20th Century.

    South Korea was undoubtedly seeking to send a strong signal to Beijing by notifying Japan that its military aircraft would be crossing into its ADIZ, despite Seoul refusing to identify its aircraft to Beijing.

    This marks a dramatic reversal from just a few weeks ago when China and South Korea were presenting a unified front against Japan over questions about history and sovereignty disputes.

    The story is probably distorting facts – I wonder if it’s true that S. Korea when conducting drills would seek Japanese “permission” but openly tout China?

    Also – while S. Korea is expanding its ADIZ in its EEZ dispute with China, it dares not expand its ADIZ to incorporate Dokdo in dispute with Japan. I don’t think its ADIZ covers Dokdo because previously its ADIZ did not overlap with Japan’s, and it didn’t expand its Eastern boundary with Japan. All it could do is complain that Japan ADIZ intrudes over “its islands.”

  26. December 14th, 2013 at 09:33 | #27

    You’d think that a magazine like Foreign Affairs would get the ADIZ right – after a weeks to digest what an ADIZ is?

    Well .. yes and no.

    In this most recent article “What’s an ADIZ? Why the United States, Japan, and China Get It Wrong” by David Welch, Foreign Affairs still don’t get things right.

    First, the good part. The article starts out correct – and the premise is half right. Much of the commotion over China is much ado about nothing. As I explained in the post above, as the Chinese gov’t has clarified time and time again, ADIZ is not territorial space.

    China’s recent announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea has generated a great deal of confusion and alarm. Much of that is a function of the fact that few know what an ADIZ is, what it is for, and why it matters — including, apparently, the Chinese government and military.

    An ADIZ is a publicly defined area extending beyond national territory in which unidentified aircraft are liable to be interrogated and, if necessary, intercepted for identification before they cross into sovereign airspace. The concept is a product of the Cold War: in the 1950s, the United States declared the world’s first ADIZs to reduce the risk of a surprise attack from the Soviet Union. Today, the United States has five zones (East Coast, West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam) and operates two more jointly with Canada. Other countries that maintain ADIZs include India, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

    In addition to providing an added measure of security, an ADIZ can help reduce the risk of midair collisions, combat illicit drug flows, facilitate search-and-rescue missions, and reduce the need for fighter jet sorties for purposes of visual inspection. This last point is the most important: ADIZs can increase transparency, predictability, and strategic stability by reducing uncertainty on both sides about when, where, and how aerial interceptions might take place. In 1960, for example, the Soviet Union had no clearly established air defense identification zones and procedures, and the resulting confusion led to a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft being shot down over international waters.

    There are no international agreements governing any aspect of an ADIZ. States are neither explicitly authorized to establish them nor are they explicitly prohibited from doing so. ADIZs usually extend into what is universally acknowledged to be international airspace, even by the countries that maintain them, and in no way confer any sovereign rights. Off southern California, for example, a U.S. ADIZ stretches more than 400 miles out to sea. Since states have the right to regulate air traffic only over their sovereign territory, countries are not legally obliged to comply with another countries’ ADIZ requirements in international airspace, but they tend to do so because of the security and safety benefits to all. An air defense identification zone is about security and safety, not politics or law.

    Then the bad. Welch then goes on to give his simplified theory of the purpose of ADIZ, guess the purpose of China’s real purpose in setting up its ADIZ, and assert that China’s purpose does not match the purposes he deemed legit.

    So why did China establish its East China Sea ADIZ?

    Reducing the risk of surprise attack cannot have been part of the equation, because there was no real danger of that to begin with. Tensions in the region are undoubtedly high at the moment, but this is not your grandfather’s Cold War. No country wants a major shot to the heart of the global economy. The danger of surprise attack is highest when at least one party to a conflict considers war inevitable and thinks that getting in the first blow would deliver a decisive military advantage. To the extent that China’s ADIZ has deepened regional fears about China’s long-term intentions, it has actually increased this risk.

    Wait … so China shouldn’t get a ADIZ because it has no grounds for fearing an attack? Has Welch heard of U.S. Sea-Air Battle Planning? And if it’s true that China has nothing to fear, than shouldn’t U.S. and Japan also have nothing to fear – in fact, rescind its ADIZ? Is there an international tribunal to air one’s defense needs, get it stamped for approval, and hence apply for an ADIZ?

    As for China’s ADIZ increasing risk, I don’t think it has. China’s ADIZ is just a notification system – not a no-fly zone or get approval before you fly zone. If you don’t comply, no problem. China will probably ignore you. But if you are deemed a threat, then you will get taking defensive response maneuvers, which may or may not involve scrambling fighter jets to check things out or to escort, if needed.

    If East Asia has become more dangerous, the problem is all the U.S. and Japan’s making. The problem here is in U.S. and Japan kicking up a stink when China is only setting up an ADIZ that is consistent with the norms of current ADIZ in the world – that is much smaller than Japan’s (and U.S.’s) very expansive ADIZ. The problem is not China’s ADIZ, but the refusal to recognize China’s legitimate defense concerns.

    Many in the U.S. and Japan see China’s economic rise as changing the status quo and presenting a geopolitical threat … and deepening fears about China’s long-term intentions, too. The solution there is not that China should not develop – and grow economically, but that Japan and U.S. needs to adjust its mindset on what long-term stability is -to incorporate China’s interets in the world global government and power structure. Similarly here, the problem with China’s ADIZ (which is but one form of its articulation of its defense needs) is not that China shouldn’t have one, but that the U.S. and Japan needs to take the long-term view and accept China’s legitimate defense needs.

    Also implausible is that China sought to reduce drug smuggling in the East China Sea, which is not a significant drug route. And given the multiple and overlapping maritime jurisdiction claims in the area, there is no shortage of willing search-and-rescue providers. Not surprisingly, neither motive figured in the Chinese defense ministry’s statement announcing the establishment of the zone.

    So Japan had a need to reduce drug smuggling in the East China Sea and throughout the Western Pacific? Has Welch taken a look at Japan’s ADIZ map?

    The problem here is the typical Western mindset. You must be like us, or you are out of line. China’s need for ADIZ is very clear. Its industrial heart lies in the Eastern seaboard, right up against the East China Seas. The defense needs is to protect its industrial – not to mention political – heart – as Beijing. The geography proximity of China, S. Korea, and Japan presents security challenge not found anywhere else in the world…

    The desire to reduce the risk of midair collisions is a marginally more plausible explanation. The problem here is not commercial air traffic, which is already under good regulation in the East China Sea (anyone with an Internet connection can monitor it in real time). Rather, it is military flights, as was demonstrated in 2001 when a U.S. Navy EP-3 collided with an F-8 fighter from the Chinese Navy over the South China Sea.

    In the case of military flights, the risk of midair collision primarily stems from conflicting understandings of overflight rights. Most countries insist that their militaries have a right to fly freely in international airspace. The United States allows this even within its own ADIZs, subject to possible observation. By contrast, China and a small number of other like-minded countries, including Brazil, insist that a coastal state has the right to regulate at least some military traffic in the airspace over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) — the maritime area extending 200 miles from its shores over which it has special exploration and resource exploitation rights. This difference of opinion led directly to the EP-3 incident: the pilot that intercepted the American plane took exception to its presence in China’s EEZ and in the process of attempting to scare it away clipped its wings. Since proclaiming an ADIZ puts even more pressure on China to intercept foreign military flights, it actually increases the risk of such accidents.

    This is twisting the issues. The ADIZ has nothing to do with the EEZ. CHina has made abundantly clear of that – and also with S. Korea.

    The ADIZ is a transparency mechanism to say, hey here is the area I care about, please let me know if you are going to do anything here so I know who and what you are doing. You don’t need permission, just we’d appreciate a heads up. If you don’t give me a heads up, no problem, it just makes my task harder. I may have to unnecessarily take defensive procedures that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I am just telling you ahead of times so you can make things easy for everyone.

    Now, about military surveillance. Yes some countries including China takes the stance that EEZ’s jurisdiction over research and surveillancecovers military. But that’s a separate issue from the ADIZ. That reading of EEZ does impose some restriction on freedom of flight (applied to military activities) – restrictions that ADIZ per se does not grant. These are completely separate issues.

    Besides, strategically, I personally believe China ought to change its stance on EEZ. Since the U.S. doesn’t conform with China’s interpretation of the EEZ, China by its stance doesn’t get much except to restrain its own actions. Given the extensive EEZ U.S. and Japan claims in the Pacific, China is only boxing itself, strategically speaking. I think EEZ should just be read strictly for commercial purposes. Further, China ought to add the reservation in its UNCLOS treaty that it doesn’t respect EEZ claims that do not conform with China’s interpretation of the THE POTSDAM PROCLAMATION – just to send a clear message to Japan – without raising explicit territorial disputes per se.

    It is evident that China’s ADIZ has no prospect of increasing transparency, predictability, or strategic stability. It has prompted confusion among commercial airlines and ostentatious demonstrations of noncompliance by the U.S., Japanese, and South Korean militaries. Since China’s ADIZ overlaps with Japan’s, there is now a very real possibility that a plane in the area could receive conflicting instructions and face simultaneous Chinese and Japanese interception. From a security and safety perspective, China’s announcement clearly makes things worse, not better.

    Welch is clearly confused now.

    Overlap happens because of the geographic proximity of three polities here. Just because one has defined an ADIZ does not mean others in the neighborhood don’t have a similar right to monitor the same international space. This is the fundamental problem with the U.S. and Japan mindset on ADIZ. They take such affront when China defines one because they’ve always treated it as land (air space) grabbing. For China, which doesn’t see as ADIZ territorial land grab, people are still perplexed at the reactions.

    And what conflicting instructions do we mean? ADIZ is a notification system. It should not interfere with freedom of flight – unless the objects in question becomes a clear national security issue. And yes, the EAst China Sea can become a more dangerous even for commercial flights to pass by if Japan and China gets more confrontational in that space where every unidentified object is treated as a major threat. But that will happen because Japan and China doesn’t get along, not because of the existence of ADIZ.

    Would ADIZ increase the chance Japanese and Chinese jets shadow each other? Perhaps – but again not because of the existence of ADIZ. That chance exists with or without the ADIZ – because of the proximity of Japanese and Chinese borders. Welch perhaps needs to be reminded – like others – that ADIZ is not territorial space – or administrative space. It is actually public international space. Japanese and Chinese fighters have equal rights to be in this space.

    Because of their proximity, it would be nice if all parties could work out something to reduce problems and misunderstandings – and ADIZ is precisely one such mechanism for each side to declare to each other: this is the area I am interested in – and for parties inform each other of actions that could potentially be taken as a threat. But now with Japan (S. Korea) and U.S. response of openly flouting China’s ADIZ for military purposes, that opportunity is gone. There is no mutual respect. No one needs to respect any others’ ADIZ.

    The common wisdom, no less wise for being common, is that China declared an ADIZ in the belief that it would aid in its dispute with Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands. Chinese leaders could have believed this for one of two reasons: first, they believed that an ADIZ signals or confers sovereign rights; or, second, they believed that declaring an ADIZ covering the disputed islands would enhance their bargaining position. The former is demonstrably wrong; if this is what they believed, they should immediately fire their international lawyers. The latter belief would only be justified if bargaining was taking place and if Washington and Tokyo could be cowed. This has proved demonstrably wrong, too, and if this is what they had in mind, they should fire their political analysts.

    It is evident that China miscalculated. But China is not the only country that is worse off as a result. East Asia has suddenly become a more dangerous place.

    China has clearly made clear that ADIZ is public international space … not territorial space or adminsitrative or EEZ space – so none of this makes sense. Welch just like others are misreading facts, ascribing China intentions it never declared, and making a fuss about nothing.

    East Aaia perhaps has become a more dangerous place – but that would be by recent U.S. and Japanese and S. Korean actions, not by China’s.

    Finally… Welch concludes:

    China is on record having established an East China Sea ADIZ; the United States and its allies are on record having rejected it. Let the public conversation end there. At the end of the day — as far as sovereignty is concerned — it is all much ado about nothing anyway.

    The fuss about China’s ADIZ is indeed much ado about nothing. The rejection by the U.S. and allies are not though. Not only does it flout an opportunity for communication and transparency, but strategically it renders reality 2 things:

    1. The U.S. and allies are indeed militarily containing China;
    2. In principle, China may also openly flout Japanese and U.S. ADIZ as well…when one day (soon) its air force becomes capable enough.

  27. Black Pheonix
    December 15th, 2013 at 10:06 | #28


    I think PR wise, Japan got some points on this one, on the surface, from the usual “anti-China” crowd. So I don’t really care much about that. Those moron sock puppets can fuss all they want.

    but if you dig deep a little, you will find that the tide is turning a bit against US and Japan, even on line.

    and RE: Dokdo islands, South Korea’s previous ADIZ already covered them.

    I think South Korea in this case is as China characterized, using the opportunity for its own advantage. (which I think China has anticipated).

    US initially wanted to deny South Korea’s plan to expand its ADIZ, but didn’t have much of a choice but to relent.

    Forcing this, South Korea has effectively challenged US’s authority in the region, (and also Japan’s position).

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