Saturday, 30 November 2013

Air defence zone a 'lose-lose' for Beijing?

By Richard A. Bitzlinger, Published The Straits Times, 29 Nov 2013

CHINA'S creation of a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea is quickly turning out to be a no-win situation for Beijing.

On the one hand, it has become a diplomatic disaster for China. On the other, it could either provoke a military crisis - the blame for which would lie entirely with Beijing - or else turn out to be a toothless gesture highlighting the country's feebleness as a regional great power.

China announced its new East China Sea ADIZ on Nov 23. It extends out more than 500km from the country's coastline and cuts a wide swathe through the East China Sea. China's ADIZ overlaps with similar air defence identification zones established by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

In particular, it includes the disputed islets - known by Japan as the Senkaku Islands, and by China as the Diaoyu - which are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.

It is critical to note that an ADIZ is not a territorial claim. National airspace extends out only 12 nautical miles over open water, the same as a country's territorial waters. ADIZs are intended to provide a country with early notification, location and control of foreign civilian aircraft entering national airspace.

ADIZs are also not new; more than 20 countries have created such zones around them. The United States established one of the first such zones in the early 1950s, and in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, it also created a special ADIZ around Washington, DC. Japan also established a national ADIZ - including around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands - back in the late 1960s.

Moreover, most ADIZs are unilaterally declared. They have no basis in international law, but are usually adhered to by other nations.

Nevertheless, China's new ADIZ seems purposely constructed so as to be contentious. In the first place, it overlaps with similar air defence identification zones established by three Asian neighbours, as well as the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This appears to be almost a deliberately provocative (and unnecessary) move.

Just as controversial, however, is that it requires all civilian aircraft entering the ADIZ to identify themselves, even if they are only passing through the zone and have no intention of entering Chinese national airspace; no other ADIZ requires this kind of notification.

Finally, China demands that all non-commercial flights - and therefore military aircraft - entering the ADIZ also identify themselves, or else face "defensive emergency measures" by Chinese armed forces.

Given these constructs, it was little wonder that the establishment of this ADIZ has been so universally condemned.

Japan and South Korea quickly denounced the new move. Tokyo has termed the ADIZ "totally unacceptable" while the South Korean Defence Ministry declared it would not notify China of flights taking place where the Korean and Chinese ADIZs overlap.

For its part, the US has criticised the creation of the new zone both as destabilising to the fragile status quo in the East China Sea and as an affront to freedom of navigation in international airspace.

US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that "freedom of overflight and other international lawful uses of sea and airspace are essential to prosperity, stability and security in the Pacific. We don't support efforts by any state to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter its national airspace."

Overall, China's efforts to use the new East China Sea ADIZ as a means to strengthen its claims in the region have backfired - in some cases, quite embarrassingly.

To underscore the US' refusal to accept China's new ADIZ, it sent two unarmed B-52 bombers into the zone on Tuesday without pre-notification. Nothing happened.

The takeaway here, therefore, is that China may be unwilling or unable to enforce its ADIZ with military might.

Moreover, China's actions have had the unintended consequences of uniting its neighbours in opposition to the zone.

Seoul and Tokyo, for example, are in the rare situation of both criticising Beijing over establishing the ADIZ. Sino-Korean ties, which have traditionally been quite good, are particularly hard-hit.

China's East China Sea ADIZ could have wider implications for the Asia-Pacific region, especially South-east Asia.

Tensions have been riding high in the South China Sea for several years now, and recent efforts by Beijing - including offers of billions of dollars in new business deals - to assuage concerns about Chinese "creeping assertiveness" in the region could all be undone by an aggressive enforcement of the new ADIZ.

These efforts look even less convincing, given that China has declared that it might create further identification zones in the future, leaving open the possibility of a Chinese ADIZ in the South China Sea.

One beneficiary of these developments could be the US. America's "rebalancing" back to Asia has hit some bumps since its promulgation nearly three years ago. Growing Chinese aggression in the region - or even just the appearance of it - could greatly aid Washington in revitalising this pivot and in bringing new regional partners into the effort.

On the whole, therefore, China's effort to create a new ADIZ in the East China Sea has backfired on it - up to now.

An even more perilous outcome could result if it decides to aggressively enforce this zone. Increasingly, Chinese foreign policy has been driven by a "populist nationalism" fuelled by an "official narrative of humiliation" (to quote a recent BBC report).

This sense of "victimhood" could spur Beijing into becoming ever more intransigent in pressing its territorial claims in the adjoining seas, up to and including military action.

Ultimately, the only thing worse - not just for China but for the entire Asia-Pacific region - than not enforcing its new ADIZ would be if Beijing decides to use brute force to put it into effect.

The writer is a senior fellow and coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

Making sense of China's move on air defence zone
The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2013

ON NOV 23, China declared an East China Sea air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

Such air buffer zones are commonplace, so countries can set rules on aircraft in international airspace as they near their sovereign airspace.

But China's insistence that its rules - such as requiring aircraft to submit flight plans - apply to aircraft flying in the area, not just those that want to enter China's airspace, created alarm throughout the region.

So did its warning that "defensive emergency measures" would be adopted to respond to aircraft that refuse to follow the instructions. After all, the zone overlaps the existing ADIZ of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

On Tuesday, the United States sent two unarmed military planes flying through China's ADIZ.

Is the US action escalating tension in the region?

What might account for China's action of declaring an ADIZ in the East China Sea?

How does this fit in with new Chinese leader Xi Jinping's foreign policy?

This snapshot of views from different sources attempts answers.


By Sam LaGrone and Dave Majumdar. They are respectively the editor of United States Naval Institute News and a long-time defence writer.

IT IS important to note that the zones are over international waters and the legalities that govern them are murky at best.

For example, Japan's Adiz encompasses its economic exclusion zone and also overlaps Taiwan's Adiz - which has caused tensions in the past.

The Adiz airspace is not "claimed" by whichever party is trying to enforce the zone. All a nation or party in question can do is ask for the identification, location and try to claim air traffic control of civil aircraft - and back the claim up with the threat of interception.

But the exact legal mechanism under international law is murky. The US government, for example, enforces its zones under legal theory that a nation has the right to set the conditions of entry into its territory.

"International law does not prohibit nations from establishing air defence identification zones (ADIZ) in the international airspace adjacent to their territorial airspace," (according to) the US Navy's Commander's Handbook On The Law of Naval Operations.

"The legal basis for ADIZ regulations is the right of a nation to establish reasonable conditions of entry into its territory. Accordingly, an aircraft approaching national airspace can be required to identify itself while in international airspace as a condition of entry approval."

Of note for this particular (instance), ignoring the Chinese ADIZ is standard procedure for the US government.

"The United States does not recognise 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 US airspace," the handbook states.

"Accordingly, US 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."


This is an extract from an editorial in the state-run Global Times newspaper on Tuesday which has China calling on Japan to enter into negotiations for a peaceful East China Sea.

THE Chinese anticipated Washington would show support for Tokyo, at least in its declaration, and we predict that it will further pressure China with escalated tensions over the Diaoyu Islands.

However, the US' tough stance might turn out to become a catalyst for Japan to take further provocative actions against China on the East China Sea, instead of serving as a condition to prompt Beijing to alter its will and determination in establishing the ADIZ...

It must be pointed out that Beijing set up the ADIZ with an aim to avoid friction and conflicts. More than 20 countries have created their air defence identification zones and, in particular, Japan's ADIZ has crossed the so-called "median line" in the East China Sea reaching only 130km from China's mainland. Therefore it is indispensable for Beijing to include the Diaoyu Islands in the new ADIZ.

If Tokyo desires a peaceful East China Sea, it is supposed to negotiate with Beijing on the operation of both air defence zones and effectively manage and control crises, which is not difficult with advanced technologies.

However, Beijing cannot influence Japan's decision if it takes "unexpected" actions against China's aircraft in the ADIZ.

We are convinced that the People's Liberation Army must have taken into account the worst situation when a military mishap breaks out.

If Washington attempts to interfere in this Sino-Japanese territorial row, China is willing to keep it company to the end.


By Nicholas Szechenyi, Victor Cha, Bonnie S. Glaser, Michael J. Green, Christopher K. Johnson, Centre for Strategic Studies and International Studies.

AT first glance, the establishment of the ADIZ seems to be at odds with the Xi administration's incipient foreign policy vision.

Since coming to power, the new leadership has seemed to focus its energies on rebooting Beijing's relations with its regional neighbours. China has sought to calm tensions with ASEAN over territorial disputes in the South China Sea by adopting, at least rhetorically, a more constructive approach towards managing the problem through dialogue aimed at an eventual agreement on a code of conduct.

Mr Xi and his Premier, Mr Li Keqiang, stepped up the charm offensive with their respective performances at last month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and East Asia Summit meetings, signing deals worth billions in an economic blitzkreig reminiscent of Beijing's highly effective "smile diplomacy" that began in the late 1990s. Mr Xi and his colleagues seemed to cap off this new approach by holding a rare internal policy conclave in late October focusing on strategies for further improving China's relations with peripheral states.

Of course, one can make the argument that relations with Japan are a special case and that Beijing's actions are consistent with a long-standing tradition of seeking to avoid tensions on multiple fronts at any one time.

Viewed through that prism, the friendlier approach towards Southeast Asia can be characterised as a necessary precursor to an even tougher policy approach towards Japan.

But it would be a mistake to confine the import of the ADIZ solely to Beijing's cat-and-mouse game with Tokyo. Instead, it should be understood within the context of the new leadership's framing of the security challenges it faces in the region.

Distracted by its once-in-a-decade leadership transition and a struggling economy, the senior Chinese leadership last year largely deferred an authoritative review of the implications of the US strategic rebalancing towards Asia for China's security.

With the succession now complete, however, the outlines of Mr Xi Jinping's assessment of the situation are coming into sharper focus.

Recent authoritative Chinese documents, such as this year's defence white paper, have affirmed the continuing validity of China's primary external strategic guideline (in) its judgment that China has a "period of strategic opportunity" extending through 2020 in which a benign external security environment allows it to focus on its internal development.

That said, these writings also suggest that the "period of strategic opportunity" is under "unprecedented stress" and that the US rebalance is the source of that stress.

Against that backdrop, Mr Xi's frequent admonitions to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to be prepared to "fight and win wars" take on added significance.

Along with hints from the just-concluded Third Plenum that the leadership is considering sweeping military structural reforms aimed at improving the PLA's combat effectiveness, it leaves an impression that the leadership is signalling that it judges the risk of conflict in the region to be on the rise.

The establishment of the ADIZ can therefore be seen as contributing to the seeming sense of urgency that Mr Xi is seeking to foster in shaping the regime's response to this threat assessment.

It also suggests that, while still the predominant concern, the possibility of an accident in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu territory is not the only risk of escalation in the East China Sea that US security planners should be focusing on.

How China bungled the launch of its air zone
Finesse and better timing could have helped avert backlash, experts say
By Esther Teo, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2013

CHINA'S announcement of its first-ever Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) a week ago sparked strong criticism from neighbours Japan and South Korea to countries farther afield like the United States and Australia.

The Chinese ADIZ not only partially overlaps the zones set up by neighbouring countries, but it also includes a group of disputed East China Sea isles called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.

The outrage the new zone has caused prompts the question: Could Beijing have prevented the backlash or at least mitigated it?

Some analysts believe that had Beijing handled the launch of the ADIZ with finesse, better timing and more clarity, this might have minimised the damage to the image of a responsible, peace-loving Asian giant it is trying to burnish.

China has every right to set up its own air defence identification zone, the analysts say. After all, more than 20 countries including the US and Japan have set up such zones since the 1950s. These zones are often drawn up unilaterally as there are no international laws that determine their size.

Typically larger than a nation's territorial airspace, the zone serves much like an early warning system in an era of high-speed warplanes.

And so it could have been Beijing's "inept" handling of the announcement, rather than the ADIZ itself, that led to China shooting itself in the foot, said Professor Huang Jing of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

"What matters is not that China announced the ADIZ, it's that the timing was bad and the way China announced it was inept. It gave room for distortion, as most media outlets... now describe it as China's air defence zone rather than air defence identification zone," he told The Straits Times.

Hong Kong-based analyst Willy Lam said it was known that China had been studying the possibility of an ADIZ but, given rising Sino-Japan tensions recently, it was not the best time for the launch.

"The zone has been interpreted as testing the resolve of Japan and the US. I think the Chinese might have underestimated the intensity of the backlash," he said.

While its relationship with Tokyo has been testy, Beijing could have considered consulting Washington prior to the zone's establishment in the light of warming ties between their militaries recently, Professor Lam added.

University of Nottingham analyst Steve Tsang said China could have given prior notice of its intention, allowing time for others to respond and adjust.

"(But the way it) imposed (its ADIZ), which affects many countries and airlines without warning, is just about as bad as it could be handled," he added.

However, Professor Tsang noted that with the disputed islands at the centre of contention and fears over how a rising China is increasingly asserting itself, little else could have been done to quell the strong disapproval from various quarters.

Analyst Andrew Erickson of the US Naval War College said concern stems from the fact that China's ADIZ has been defined "in a categorical manner that ignores the complexities and risks involved", such as the overlaps with other countries' zones.

But he noted that Beijing can help allay the concerns of its neighbours and other international airspace users by offering specific clarifications and reassurances.

"Otherwise, suspicions will grow that the new type of great power relations Beijing promotes is merely intended to signal that others should yield to a rising China's principled positions," Professor Erickson told The Straits Times in an e-mail reply.

Some ambiguity exists, such as whether the new rules, which require planes to submit their flight plans, apply to commercial jets in addition to military ones.

Shanghai-based security analyst Ni Lexiong defended the timing of China's announcement, saying it is precisely because Tokyo-Beijing relations had taken a turn for the worse that there was a need to declare the ADIZ.

Still, some experts say Beijing's lack of finesse in declaring its ADIZ shows China has yet to learn that raising its standing globally cannot be done through the barrel of a gun.

While its moves might have stemmed from a nationalistic perspective, the Chinese leadership "miscalculated" and failed to consider how its actions might be perceived by the international community, Prof Tsang said.

"The really big price for China is that this action has made it hard for any of its neighbours to believe in the 'peaceful rise' rhetoric of the previous Chinese administrations," he added.

All China seeks is a sense of security
China's creation of a new air defence identification zone, which includes the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands, sparked protests last week. Two writers defend China's action.
By Wang Xiangsui, Published The Straits Times, 2 Dec 2013

FOR the Chinese, the modern history of China began in 1840 when the Sino-British Opium War erupted. Many Western historians are of the view that the conflict was a result of China's not opening up its markets to foreign trade, or a form of punishment for China's backwardness.

The Chinese, however, firmly believe the foreign powers made use of their naval prowess and military advantage to infringe upon China's sovereignty.

For the Chinese, this period of history which saw their country being "beaten up" by Western powers serves as a warning that China needs to safeguard its national security and pay attention to unresolved issues which may impact it.

The dispute over the ownership of the Diaoyu islands is one such issue and its historical roots can be traced back to the same period in modern Chinese history when China suffered at the hands of Western powers.

This brief historical outline is necessary in order to understand why Beijing created the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The new air zone stems from China's sense of feeling unsafe. Washington's so-called "pivot to Asia" policy plan has effectively disrupted the integration of Asean and Chinese economies.

These unresolved security issues have been used by the United States to support the pivot.

The Pentagon's so-called Air-Sea Battle doctrine has further convinced China it faces growing security threats in the region.

On the Diaoyu islands dispute, Tokyo has used its own ADIZ, which overlaps with China's newly created air zone, to upset the operations of China's patrol ships and oil fields in the area. This made Beijing realise the security threat it faces is a real one.

Hence, Beijing adopted simple and clear logic in response: If other countries can set up ADIZs around China, why can't similar zones be established by a China facing air and sea threats?

The shock expressed by Western media and commentators to China's creation of an ADIZ reflects their misunderstanding or ignorance, but the reaction could be an orchestrated one.

After all, the Diaoyu dispute can be traced back to the 1894 Sino-Japanese War and the 1951 San Francisco Treaty. The disputed islands were administered by the US occupation force after World War II. In 1972, Washington handed over the administrative rights to Japan as part of its withdrawal from Okinawa.

On the controversy over ADIZs, it started with the US setting up the first ADIZ in 1950, followed by Japan's repeated expansion of its ADIZ towards China's coastline, and escalated in the trespassing of such a zone by US B-52 bombers last week.

China's creation of an ADIZ is a normal response to the air and sea threats it faces today.

If one understands modern Chinese history, then one would not point the finger at China. This is because the Chinese people have been victims in past wars of aggression. Up to today, what China seeks is security and the right to develop the country in a peaceful environment.

China hopes to have a "peaceful rise", but at the same time it is very wary of any attempt to prevent its rise using "non-peaceful means". China does not seek war and does not bully others, but it will fight back if bullied.

In protecting national security interests, Beijing opposes hegemony and advocates parity. If other countries have the right to set up ADIZs, then China should enjoy similar rights. Why is it that China faces great opposition in its attempt to set up an ADIZ when similar zones have been in place for more than 40 years?

In the international outcry over China's creation of an ADIZ, the arrogance and prejudice of former colonists is felt again.

In the game of big-power politics, the rules are similar to the saying "you reap what you sow".

Cooperation begets cooperation. Betrayal begets betrayal. If China feels safe and enjoys security, then its neighbourhood - and the world - will enjoy a safe environment.

Just days after sending B-52 bombers in an act of support for its ally, Washington on Nov 30 advised its civilian airlines to comply with rules set by Beijing over the new air zone. This reflects the US' pragmatism and its respect for China's sovereignty.

The US has executed a tough and praiseworthy act of balancing in big-power politics. What does this latest development say about those political players and media who were quick to take sides in their discussion of the new air zone?

The writer is director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This piece is translated from Chinese by The Straits Times.

US 'trespass' was exactly what China wanted
By Wen Yang, Published The Straits Times, 2 Dec 2013

WITHIN three days of China's announcement, two B-52 bombers took off from their military base in Guam without escorts and weapons. They entered the zone and flew for more than an hour before leaving, all just to show their disregard for the new area and its new rules.

In this Round One, China lost; the United States won.

Many people have been wondering why China did not plan strategically on such a major issue before taking action, as they felt it is very unlikely for China not to have foreseen the US taking a step like this.

If China had anticipated this move - that it expected the "trespassing" of the US jets - then why did it endure such embarrassment and lose this round on purpose?

There is only one possibility to China's carefully laid strategic puzzle: Let the US and Japan "trespass" freely, and this is the exact effect China wants.

To understand this point, just change the point of view and look at the location of Japan's air defence identification zone.

This enormous "quasi-restricted area" poses real obstacles to Chinese air and naval forces advancing to the west Pacific Ocean.

Since 1969, after the US handed over jurisdiction of the identification zone to Japan, the latter has unilaterally expanded the boundaries towards the west twice, in 1972 and 2010.

It has almost become a "frontline blockade" for China. Can China still continue to acquiesce to this status quo?

The US and Japan have declared publicly that they will not accept China's new air defence zone and vow to use actual actions to barge into the zone. So China will probably reciprocate in future by passing through the air defence zones of Japan (as well as the US) at will.

The writer is the deputy director of Sinolizing Research Centre in Hong Kong. This is an edited excerpt of a piece which first appeared in Lianhe Zaobao last Friday. Translated by Lim Ruey Yan and Kua Yu-Lin.

China wants a say on security matters in region
What does Beijing hope to achieve with its newly created air defence zone? China watchers offer their interpretations.
By Ching Cheong, The Straits Times, 6 Dec 2013

CHINA'S designation of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea serves both tactical and strategic motives.

Tactically, it is the logical outcome of Beijing's long-cherished intent to breach the "first island chain of defence", a string of major archipelagos off China's coast. They include the Japanese archipelago, Taiwan and the northern Philippines.

Beijing has long feared that rival powers could restrict its growth as a naval power by controlling or blocking key waterways in the area.

The United States and Japan, for instance, have frequently conducted joint military exercises in the Miyako Strait, one of the few international gateways into the Pacific Ocean for the Chinese navy.

Now, by marking its new ADIZ from the mainland coast to the Miyako Strait, China has unilaterally proclaimed a self-endowed right to patrol this area, so as to provide early warning against unfriendly aircraft.

This will greatly enhance the ease of passage of its warships to the Pacific Ocean. Military experts say that in modern warfare, any aircraft carrier would become a sitting duck without such a zone.

Strategically, the ADIZ announcement is China's attempt to assert its position as a key player in security matters in this region that is commensurate with its economic pre-eminence.

While China does not seek to edge out the American presence in the West Pacific, it wants a role for itself that commands attention from its neighbours.

Mr Zhou Fangyin, director of the Institute of Global and Peripheral Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the relative economic influences between China and the US have completely reversed in the last five years.

In 2006, the US was the largest trading partner of 127 countries and China of only 70. By 2011, this situation had been reversed, with China being the largest trading partner of 124 countries while the figure for the US had dwindled to 76.

This change in the balance of economic influence is particularly true of the East Asian region. Of the US allies in this region - Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia - all but the Philippines has China as their largest trading partner.

Yet, on security matters, it is still the US that calls the shots in the region. This situation is undesirable from the Chinese point of view.

China wants, through the creation of the ADIZ, to have its voice and rights on security matters heard and respected.

Clearly it has achieved this purpose, at least in the short term, judging from the reaction of the US and China's neighbours.

The US, while refusing to accede to China's demand under its ADIZ procedures to send flight paths of its military aircraft, nevertheless advised its civilian aircraft to comply.

The US Federal Aviation Administration reaffirmed its existing policy that its airlines should comply with such instructions anywhere in the world.

This gave China an opening to suggest that the US had acquiesced to its assertion of authority over the air zone. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei praised the US as displaying a "constructive attitude and cooperative will".

Japan, however, has fiercely rejected China's ADIZ. It had expected to issue a joint communique with the US during US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Tokyo earlier this week to pressure China to scrap its ADIZ.

To its disappointment, the US refused such a joint statement and instead urged Japan to enter into talks with China to foster safety of navigation in the Chinese ADIZ, which overlaps with the Japanese one, including over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

That the US refused to issue a joint communique on the ADIZ showed that it found it difficult to apply a double standard here: condoning the Japanese ADIZ established four decades ago while rejecting the new Chinese one.

The US stand is clear: On this issue, Japan had better talk to China.

Beijing, while rejecting both Japan and South Korea's demand that it scrap the new ADIZ, has extended invitations to both countries to hold bilateral talks.

The invitation to Japan to discuss navigational safety under the ADIZ, made last week through former foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, has been rejected by the Japanese. The invitation to Seoul last week, made by Chinese deputy chief of general staff Wang Guanzhong, is to discuss ways of promoting cooperation between their armies.

Thus by creating an ADIZ, China gains tacit US acquiescence of its right to patrol airspace far beyond its coast, and forces Japan and South Korea to turn to China on security matters.

Using the ADIZ, "China tries to establish for itself a dominant position in the security arena that matches its economic weight in the region", said Mr Zhou.

Mr Zhou also pointed out that this is in line with China's long-term strategic plan of creating a "Community of Shared Destinies" (CSD) with its neighbours, an idea expounded by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Oct24-25 conference on diplomatic work.

China wants its neighbours to realise that with its rise, they share a common destiny with China, not with the US, for the simple reason of geographical proximity.

During the conference, Mr Xi instructed that one of the main directions of diplomacy in the next 10 years should be to let the CSD concept "take root in China's neighbouring countries". It was said that the decision to designate an ADIZ was made in that conference in connection with the CSD. If so, it was a strange way to start such a community.

As observers point out, an ADIZ would surely produce the opposite result, forcing China's neighbours into closer relations with the US.

In the security arena, the more assertive China is, the more it will alienate its neighbours.

Beijing priming itself as a norm-maker
By Wu Shang-su And Irene Chan, Published The Straits Times, 6 Dec 2013

JUDGING from the recent response to the new air defence zone set up by China, Beijing's rationale behind the move - the need to boost national security - and its assurance that freedom of flight will be protected, seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Why are regional states afraid of and against China's desire to protect itself? How has the new air defence identification zone (ADIZ) undermined US ability to ensure peace and stability in the region?

To answer the first question, one has to acknowledge that regardless of China's ability to defend its ADIZ, regional countries and the US do not have the effective means to pressure China into retracting the zone or prevent Beijing from creating others over the South China Sea.
- First, there is no legal recourse to pressure China. Although the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation provides that a state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory and adjacent territorial waters, for up to 12 nautical miles from the coast or coastal baselines, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) does not regulate ADIZs.
- Second, the scale of economic interdependency between China, its neighbours and the US effectively rules out the possible use of economic sanctions on China. Given that it is the second biggest economy in the world, China has sufficient capacity to withstand short-term sanctions and impose its own counter-measures. The same cannot be said of the smaller regional countries. The bans on the export of rare earth metals to Japan and the import of bananas from the Philippines bear testimony to Beijing's ability and willingness to engage in economic warfare.
- Lastly, China's considerable nuclear arsenal and its rapidly expanding air and naval forces would make any country think twice about using military intervention.
It is no secret that the People's Liberation Army Air Force and People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force are relatively inexperienced, as compared to the US military, in conducting interceptions of foreign aircraft. While most military forces are generally guided by a set of rules of engagement (ROE) which indicate unacceptable measures during interceptions, the Chinese military and paramilitary forces do not have a clear set of ROE.

This, coupled with the tendency of Chinese military and law enforcement forces to take the law into their own hands in the name of patriotism, heightens the risk of miscalculation in mid air.

China's ADIZ over the East China Sea also raised questions over America's role as the traditional guarantor of peace and security in the region. The deployment of the B-52 bombers and an aircraft carrier strike group in the ADIZ can be seen as a show of US defiance and its reassurance to allies that it is committed to maintaining stability in the region.

However, such tactics may be effective only to a limited extent. The US would be unable to provide daily escort for hundreds of civil flights passing through the new air zone even though there are American airbases in nearby Okinawa.

Furthermore, the US ability to manage the situation is further complicated by the lack of a direct and effective Sino-US military-to-military communication.

A month ago, the Japanese Kyodo news agency obtained an internal Chinese military document on the ADIZ, which hinted that the Chinese had made sure there are no international rules concerning the establishment of such zones.

While there is a set of internationally accepted norms guiding the ADIZs, such a zone has no basis in international law and is not overseen by any international organisation.

This legal ambiguity gives Beijing much leeway in determining how it wants to administer the new ADIZ. The Chinese decision-makers can strengthen their aerial military presence in the zone and undercut that of their counterparts.

In sum, the ADIZ can be seen as the latest in the string of "rightful" measures by Beijing to resist or challenge the established order in the Asia-Pacific region and to prime itself as a norm-maker, rather than an obedient norm follower.

Wu Shang-su is a research fellow in the Military Studies Programme and Irene Chan is a senior research analyst in the China Programme, at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

Have international rules to govern zones
China's new air defence identification zone highlights controversy over such areas
By Mark J. Valencia, Published The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2013

ON NOV 23, China declared an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea and then sent "air patrols" to back it up. The initial focus and effects are, of course, on the East China Sea and the island and maritime disputes there. But the real significance of the ADIZ may be its effect and that of possible other China-declared ADIZs to come on US intelligence gathering in the airspace outside China's 12-nautical-mile territorial sea.

According to China's announcement of its ADIZ, any aircraft entering it would need to submit its flight plans, maintain radio communication and reply promptly to identification inquiries from the Chinese authorities. China also said that "(its) armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions".

What that means in practice is unclear but obviously foreign aircraft entering the zone without complying with China's rules should exercise caution.

China may also declare ADIZs in the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea. The ADIZs may help China counter or at least "manage" US and Japanese aerial reconnaissance activities - long a bone of contention between China and the US. The US sends up to 400 technologically advanced EP3-E surveillance planes a year along the coast of China to intercept communications and monitor China's coastal and maritime military activities, including submarine movements. The aircraft sometimes "tickle" the Chinese military, generating responses which can then be monitored for planning of potential military attacks.

Other EP3-E activities have been alleged to include interference with communications, jamming of radar and cyberattacks. These activities appear to involve far greater interference with the communications and defence systems of China than any traditional intelligence gathering conducted from outside national territory.

On April 1, 2001, two Chinese F-3 fighter jets intercepted a US Navy EP3-E about 110km southeast of Hainan. One of them collided with the US Navy plane. The collision destroyed the F-3 jet and gravely damaged the EP3-E, requiring it to make an emergency landing on Hainan.

China later charged that the activities of the plane posed a threat to its national security and abused the principle of freedom of overflight. The incident led to an international crisis, sabre-rattling verbal exchanges and tense negotiations to resolve the issue. Will the new ADIZ(s) result in more such incidents?

Electronic warfareADVANCES in electronic warfare (EW) have become increasingly intensive and intrusive and the UN Charter and subsequent legal developments have not taken them into account. An important legal and political question is whether some of the EW-related activities the US conducts in China's newly declared ADIZ in the East China Sea and any others it may declare can be considered inconsistent with the UN Charter, that is, a threat of use of force.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that (the declaration of an ADIZ) "will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region". The US immediately backed up its statements with actions of its own. On Nov 26, two US B-52 bombers out of Guam flew into China's new ADIZ without "filing flight plans, radioing ahead or registering our frequencies". The move was apparently designed to ensure that the Chinese version of an ADIZ did not add to customary law or strengthen China's maritime claims to islands or space in the area. This sortie was soon followed by penetrations by Japanese and South Korean military aircraft that did not follow China's ADIZ rules.

Setting a precedentSO FAR, China has not shown any hostile intent. Indeed it has done nothing more than monitor and observe - occasionally from up close - the foreign military aircraft, following the same practice of the US and Japan in monitoring and patrolling their ADIZs.

This soft follow-up may indicate China was more interested in establishing a precedent and increasing pressure on Japan to at least acknowledge there is a dispute over the islands than creating an international incident. But this same inaction drew sharp criticism from domestic nationalists. In response, Mr Qin Gang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, explained that "we will make corresponding responses according to different situations".

As usual, there are at least two sides to the issues. From China's perspective, it was simply "levelling the playing field". China has a "right" by international precedent and practice to declare ADIZs for its own "self-defence" and "to maintain order in the airspace adjacent to its homeland". Moreover, China says that the ADIZ rules do not change the legal nature of that airspace and will not "affect" normal commercial air traffic, implying that it applies to military aircraft only. This aspect needs clarification.

ADIZs are not new and have always been unilateral and controversial.

The US model for ADIZs

MORE than 20 countries have declared ADIZs. The US established the precedent of an ADIZ and its rules - for itself and Japan, Taiwan and South Korea - after World War II, and obviously thinks that all other nations' ADIZs should be based on its model. But being first does not justify dictating the rules for all nations with diverse geography and national security interests, especially in the absence of an international agreement.

The US claims that its ADIZs apply their rules or "recommendations" of prior notification to only civilian - not military - aircraft, and that they apply only to aircraft destined for US territorial airspace. However, in practice, the US monitors and often intercepts with fighter jets both civilian and military aircraft that do not follow the "recommendations" of identifying themselves and their destinations, particularly Russian Bear bombers in the Alaskan ADIZ. In just the past few months, US jets have intercepted Bear bombers in the Alaskan ADIZ at least five times.

The US may try to split legal hairs by arguing that the notification "requests" apply only to civilian aircraft and that foreign military aircraft are monitored and intercepted under "another system".

But the practical effect is the same. And whatever that system may be, surely China and other countries have a "self-defence" right to do the same.

But right now, there are no formal agreed rules regarding ADIZ or rules and conduct within them - including aerial intelligence gathering. Rather than vitriolic rhetoric and brinkmanship, what is needed now is cool heads and negotiations to harmonise ADIZ practices. Perhaps an International Civil Aviation Organisation conference or some organisation with more gravitas - like the United Nations - could help formulate an international agreement addressing these issues.

The writer is an adjunct senior research associate at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China

All states should scrap their zones
By Andy Ho, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2013

THE United States says China "has raised regional tensions" by creating its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) that covers the Diaoyu islands governed by Japan (which calls them Senkaku), which are also claimed by Taiwan (which calls them Diaoyutai).

China deems its ADIZ to be necessary for its "airspace security". Some 20 other states have ADIZs. What is the status of ADIZs in international law?

"The legalities that govern them are murky at best," Mr Sam LaGrone, editor of US Naval Institute News, claimed recently in a piece reprinted in The Straits Times. In fact, ADIZs can be shown to contravene customary international law as expressed in treaties.

An ADIZ is the airspace over land or water that a country creates by providing its GPS co-ordinates. Once defined, planes flying into an ADIZ must file a flight plan, identify itself and may be subject to air traffic control.

China is not the first to declare an ADIZ. The US created five in 1950. These extend several hundred nautical miles (nm) seaward, much more than China's does. Two US continental ADIZs extend over 300 nm into the Atlantic and over 400 nm into the Pacific. The others extend 350 nm from the Alaskan coast, 250 nm from Guam and 250 nm from Hawaii. By contrast, China's ADIZ is smaller as the disputed islands are only 180 nm from the Chinese shoreline.

In general ADIZs hardly affect international air commerce. As China has taken pains to point out, an ADIZ is not a no-fly zone, so otherwise permitted flights are not precluded. Its procedural requirements are not burdensome. But it arguably does not serve its supposed function - boosting national security - in this day.

When first created during the Cold War, ADIZs may have made some sense since nukes were then delivered by long-range bombers. An ADIZ of a few hundred nm would have afforded a country some time to scramble its interceptor jets and get ready its surface- to-air missiles.

But today, nukes are delivered by ballistic missiles or long-range cruise missiles launched from thousands of kilometres away.

In this context, an ADIZ of a few hundred nm - the distance covered by a Cold War subsonic fighter in 30 minutes, say - affords virtually no buffer in terms of time. For an ADIZ to serve that function with today's supersonic Stealth fighters, it would have to extend a few thousand nm to give you, say, 10 minutes. In sum, ADIZs no longer serve their purported security purposes.

Moreover, they violate customary international law. First think of the seas as territorial waters extending from the shore for 12 nm and then the state's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending 200 nm, which are part of the high seas.

International treaties dictate that every state has the right to traverse any EEZ and thus the airspace above it as well as the rest of the high seas and the airspace over them. But an ADIZ could extend into the EEZ and beyond.

When the US first created its ADIZs in 1950, most jurists found them illegal under domestic law. According to McGill University law professor Michael Milde in his 2008 work, International Air Law And ICAO, this was because US law limited its national sovereignty to airspace over the territorial seas of its mainland, its possessions and its trust territories.

This would also be the position of four relevant international conventions, all of which hold that a state has absolute sovereignty over the airspace above its land and its territorial seas (12 nm out) but not that above the high seas.

First, the Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944 recognises that a state, whether signatory to the treaty or not, has "exclusive sovereignty in the airspace above its territory". It then divides the seas - and thus the airspace over them - into territorial waters and high seas only. It holds that the use of airspace over the high seas is to be exclusively under international regulation. That is, a state is prohibited from passing domestic laws to regulate the airspace over the high seas.

It requires that military aircraft of a contracting state shall not "fly over the territory of another state or land thereon without authorisation" and "will have due regard for the safety of navigation of civil aircraft". In 1998, the convention added a clause to ban state aircraft from using weapons against civil aircraft in flight.

Second, the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone 1958 speaks about "limiting" the sovereignty of a coastal state to its territorial seas. If a coastal state decides to suspend the innocent passage of ships in its territorial seas, that suspension must not only be factually justifiable but also temporary.

Third, the companion treaty signed simultaneously, called the Convention on the High Seas 1958, specifically prohibits any state from asserting its sovereignty over "any part of the airspace over the high seas".

Finally, the United Nations Law of the Sea (Unclos) 1982 specifically guarantees to all states the freedom to navigate all EEZs. It also gives all states overflight rights of their planes, including military planes, in the airspace above all EEZs.

Unclos allows military planes to engage in surveillance and intelligence gathering and to support naval activities, notes Nicholas Poulantzas in his 2002 book, The Right Of Hot Pursuit In International Law. Unclos also specifies that states have no sovereignty of the airspace above their continental shelf, which may extend far out into and beyond its EEZ.

While nations may downplay it, establishing an ADIZ is tantamount to asserting partial sovereignty in that it asks traversing aircraft to self-identify. Such an act presumes a claim of (partial) ownership. With its unilateral claim of partial sovereignty of the airspace over waters beyond a coastal state's territorial seas, any ADIZ will violate all the provisions above.

When ADIZs overlap as they do above the disputed islands, overlapping partial sovereignty claims emerge, an even stronger reason for all states to stop this practice.

As ADIZs violate the four treaties which express the collective will of the community of nations, they are illegal under customary international law. And as they also cannot serve their supposed security function, all states with ADIZs, not just China, should do away with them without fail.

The art of de-escalation
China appears to be piling up the pressure in the region - but an accomplished strategic player must also learn how to deflate it
By Jonathan Eyal, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

JOE Biden is not the first emissary American officials automatically think of dispatching to handle sensitive international missions: the United States Vice-President is famous for his gaffes and slips of the tongue. Still, apart from a brief goofy moment when he referred to the Japanese Prime Minister as "Mr President", Mr Biden acquitted himself well during his latest trip to Asia. He was careful not to indulge in China-bashing.

Yet he was also forthright in expressing Washington's determination to stand by its Asian allies who may feel bullied by China: "America is a Pacific power, a resident Pacific power, and we are going nowhere, repeat: nowhere" was one of his better phrases.

But while Mr Biden may have succeeded in steadying the frayed nerves of the Japanese or South Koreans, he has not shed much light on what the US response may be to the latest assertive moves by China.

The reality is that strategic planners in Washington and other Western capitals are still scrambling to decode the significance of Beijing's latest actions. And what they have already deciphered about China's long-term intentions fills diplomats with a sense of foreboding.

The first and probably the most chilling lesson is that, notwithstanding decades of efforts by tens of thousands of intelligence officers and analysts around the world to understand trends in China's internal politics, the outside world still knows next to nothing about how strategic decisions are taken in Beijing.

Many analysts are pretty sure that a significant decision such as that of establishing the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) would have had to be approved by the top leadership. But who came up with the idea in the first place, who pushed it forward to be adopted and what was the rationale for such an action are baffling, unanswerable questions.

Either way, the country with the largest standing army and the second-biggest economy in the world remains an enigma when it comes to military and security issues. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the US had a stronger inkling of how the Soviet Union's top leaders reached strategic decisions and what made them "tick" than about comparable processes inside China today.

Equally troubling is evidence that suggests the Chinese leadership did not think through the implications of creating the ADIZ. Chinese officials were reportedly taken aback when confronted by subsequent South Korean protests against an infringement on Korean national airspace. And the leadership in Beijing appeared surprised by the US decision to defy the zone and fly two B-52 heavy bombers into China's ADIZ - given China's lack of official response to the "incursion" for the first 24 hours - although the American response was entirely foreseeable to anyone who understands Washington's perspective.

Is Beijing myopic?

THERE may be many reasons why Chinese strategic decisions often appear myopic to Western watchers. One explanation is that Beijing simply misreads developments in other countries. The Chinese leadership may have wrongly dismissed Japan as too feeble to do anything, and the US as too preoccupied with its own problems to react strongly to a new ADIZ in the East China Sea.

Another possibility is that key decisions are taken with little consultation, so those who know better are not consulted.

The truth is probably somewhere in-between: patchy strategic analysis and badly coordinated decisions rolled into one. Increasingly, the idea that the Chinese are inherently cautious, that they carefully weigh every move and only make decisions after elaborate deliberations, is appearing more like a myth.

Like all other big powers on the rise, the Chinese now act impulsively and without much afterthought, perhaps because they increasingly regard this as their right, and also because they consider themselves capable of dealing with any consequences.

But one would hope and expect Beijing to be more sophisticated. A truly accomplished strategic operator knows how to pile up the pressure, but also how and when to deflate it; this is the true process of "escalation" which most governments aim for when pursuing peaceful approaches to existing disputes.

Loss of face

INSTEAD, China seems to favour taking a big and hugely controversial strategic decision, and then following this with the closure of any venue or compromise, unless it is on China's own terms.

In the current situation for example, there is no way that Japan can agree to negotiations over China's ADIZ as it stands, for this would be tantamount to a Japanese readiness to give up bits of what it regards as its territory. Nor can China officially agree to redraw its ADIZ to satisfy South Korean objections, for this would be to admit that the ADIZ was a miscalculation in the first place.

In short, this conflict can only escalate; de-escalating it requires so much loss of face by any protagonists as to be largely impossible.

The same applies to China's decision to refuse any participation in a United Nations arbitration process over its territorial conflict with the Philippines in the South China Sea. China's refusal would be the first time any country ever refused to take part in an inter- state arbitration under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Beijing has also refused to offer any alternative, equitable mechanism for addressing the dispute. This seems to be the preferred Chinese way of resolving conflict: on its terms, or not at all.

Eager to avoid new confrontations, the US is encouraging China's neighbours to establish crisis hotlines with Beijing. But this idea, although logical, is largely irrelevant. China's political system, where the military does not usually talk to civilian officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs merely executes policies while the Communist Party's top leadership makes all the important decisions behind the scenes, is one uniquely unsuited for operating crisis hotlines. Asia appears condemned to staggering from one unexpected crisis to the next, dealing with each one as it arises as best it can.

Perhaps the Chinese will one day realise that piling up such confrontations one after another is not cost-free: with each crisis, another layer is added to the region's simmering disputes. And the more layers there are, the greater the insecurity and the more intractable the conflict becomes. That's what happened in Europe precisely a century ago, when one little territorial dispute followed another in a series of seemingly arcane, complicated rows, none of which were important in themselves, but all of which ultimately pushed the continent into World War I.

There is no inherent reason why history should repeat itself. But there is no justification for repeating many of these century- old mistakes either.

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