Home Contact Us  

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4191, 26 November 2013
China and East China Sea: Air Defence Zone and Brinkmanship
Rukmani Gupta
Analyst, IHS

China’s announcement of a new air defense zone in the East China Sea is a dangerous move towards brinkmanship in territorial disputes in the region. Aimed at “safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security and maintaining flight order” the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone" came into effect from 23 November 2013, 10 AM Beijing Time. The areas encompassed by the new zone include territories claimed by South Korea and Japan. Although Chinese Defence Ministry Spokesperson, Yang Jiejun emphasized that the creation of this zone would not “affect the freedom of flight in relevant airspace”, the rules for identification for aircraft entering the zone released by Chinese government sources, suggest otherwise. Aircrafts will now need to respond to Chinese queries regarding flight path and nationality, as well as maintain two-way radio communications. Failure to comply with these requirements will supposedly invite Chinese military intervention.
According to Yang the new Air Defense Identification Zone has no particular target and “China will take timely measures to deal with air threats and unidentified flying objects from the sea, including identification, monitoring, control and disposition, and it hopes all relevant sides positively cooperate and jointly maintain flying safety.”
This recent development by China does not in any way further flight safety in the area concerned. At best, civilian aircraft will have to identify themselves to multiple agencies in the region. At worst, military aircraft will not comply with Chinese regulations and there will entail a military standoff. 
It is the later, worst case scenario that seems more probable.  South Korea has already stated its regret that China's new zone overlapped in some part with the South Korean military zone and covered Ieodo, a rock claimed by Seoul.  The South Korean Defense military spokesperson was explicit in reiterating its territorial control over Ieodo. Japan has lodged protests with the Chinese embassy in Japan and the United States too has expressed concern over China’s moves.
The exacerbation of tensions between China and Japan over contesting claims in the East China Sea is a reasonable expectation in light of recent developments. Since the Japanese nationalisation of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands claimed by both China and Japan in the East China in September 2012, China and Japan have been engaged in a dangerous game of chicken. December 2012 saw the first violation of Japanese airspace by Chinese jets since Japan began keeping records of such events. In September 2013, a Chinese Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) flew close to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Japan has already said that it would shoot down unmanned aircraft in Japanese airspace and the Chinese have stated that such an action would constitute an “act of war”. Chinese maritime patrol vessels have been regularly entering what Japan considers its own territorial waters with the latest transgression occurring on 22 November. 
Even though the Japanese government has called for keeping open diplomatic engagement with China, on the issue of the disputed islands, China believes that the Abe administration follows a policy of “Three nos” related to the dispute - no recognition, no shelving and no dialogue. On the Chinese side, recognition of a dispute and reversal of the nationalisation of three islands undertaken in September 2012 seem to have become preconditions to any diplomatic solution. Given that both Japan and China seem unwilling to compromise on stated positions, the announcement of the air defense identification zone by China will only destabilise the situation.
This announcement by China of the new air defense identification zone is counterproductive for the country. It reinforces the idea of an aggressive China that seeks to establish expansionist territorial claims through intimidation or military means. As such, the creation of the new air defense zone can be seen as a move similar to the creation of the Sansha military garrison in the South China Sea – an attempt to seek de facto control of claimed territories. It seriously challenges the Chinese narrative of seeking resolution of differences through diplomatic means. Past incidents involving skirmished between Chinese fishing vessels and Japanese coastguard were excused as not having state sanction. Chinese denial of a radar lock on a Japanese warship in January 2013 was interpreted as unwillingness to escalate conflict. There is no such explanation available for this latest move. China cannot but be aware that recent developments have laid the ground for immediate escalation of minor incidents. Should China undertake military action against Japanese aircraft that do not comply with the announced Chinese regulations, it is to be expected that Japan too would respond in kind. Since December 2012, Japanese F-15s have been scrambled many times as a response to Chinese presence near the disputed islands.
The United States recognizes Japanese administrative control over the disputed islands and has stated that this falls under the purview of the US-Japan security treaty. Willy nilly then, the US too may be dragged into the dispute. China, that has couched its development in the rhetoric of peace for the past many decades, seems to have belied the ‘peaceful development’ narrative through this one move.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not endorsed by IHS 

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Shamshad A Khan,
"Japan’s New National Security Strategy: India Factor," 2 January 2014
Vice Admiral (retd) Vijay Shankar,
"China and Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): At Variance with the Principle of Adherence," 26 December 2013
Teshu Singh,
"China and Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): Political Objectives and International Responses," 26 December 2013
Gp Capt (Retd) PI Muralidharan,
"China and Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): An Airman’s Perspective," 17 December 2013
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra,
"China and Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): Cold Confrontation with the US?," 10 December 2013
Angana Guha Roy,
"China and Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ): Assertive Unilateralism?," 10 December 2013
Rana Divyank Chaudhary,
"IPCS Discussion: The Evolving Situation in the East and South China Seas," 14 February 2013
Emerging Security Architecture in Southeast & East Asia: Growing Tensions in South China Sea
Sonika Gupta
Issue Brief 213

Emerging Security Architecture in Southeast & East Asia: Beijing’s Strategies towards South China Sea
Jayadeva Ranade
Issue Brief 211

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
The ‘Cheonan’ Investigation: Results and Aftermath

Obama-Hu meeting at the NSS – A Comment

China and ASEAN: Reviewing Relations

Obama in China

China and Japan - Assessing the Rapprochement

The PM's Japan Visit

Japan: Does the new PM have new policies?

The SCO: Challenging US pre-eminence?

Bangladesh: Recent Developments

China and Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Deal: Another Perspective

India-China Relations: Transforming Rhetoric Into Reality?

Six-Party Talks - Destined to Deadlock?

India-China: A Strategic and Cooperative Partnership

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.