Is the region in need of new security structures with China’s ADIZ?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. Is China’s designation of an air defense zone in the East China Sea somehow a gauntlet thrown down to America or would you say that is not necessary a very hot topic?

2. Some analysts sometimes more or less compare the region of East Asia to Europe in 1914 and we all know what happened in 1914 in Europe. Do you at least partially agree with this comparison, does the region maybe need a new security-political structures to avoid the tensions?

Answers:

Bernt Berger, Senior Research Fellow/Head of Asia Program, Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP)

1. The key issue in East Asia is that there are no framework for strategic communication that would make possible clarifying signals, set rules or provide solutions for crisis response in case accidental confrontations are taking place. Even more, there is no such thing as a predictable security order. While the existing regional mechanism ARF has not managed to catch up with trends and contain a rising bipolarity between China and the US, a regional status quo in security affairs was not reestablished yet.

At the moment several trends are taking place. All parties are tiptoeing on almost uncharted ground while testing their boundaries, which is creating uncertainties but might eventually lead to a new order.

As for China’s has announcement of its ADIZ (about 50 years after Japan), the US and Japan have tested how far China would go to back up its assertion with force. In principle such a zone does not manifest any legal claims on territories and practically can help to prevent crisis between the states concerned by this issue.

2. The comparison is agreeable in certain points. The containment of rising powers has in the past triggered a unfavorable domestic public sentiment and nationalisms as well as militaristic trends. In the case of China the question, in how far decision-makers and analysts still interpret the forays of the US as containment of China’s rise or if the y have started to understand the signals being send by the US in persuading China to take up greater regional responsibility. At the moment it looks as if China is responding in a strategic game over influence and latitude in its neighborhood.

Narushige Michishita, Associate Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) Director, Security and International Studies Program (SISP)

1. It seems to have been yet another step for China to expand its sphere of influence.  China has physically taken some of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.  It might be paving a way to do the same in the East China Sea now.  The recent Chinese action might also have been related to its domestic political instability, i.e. anti-government movements and economic downturn.  The Chinese government might be trying to divert people’s attention away from domestic difficulties.

2. Not at all.  We are certainly worried about possible skirmishes and clashes, but they would not escalate into major wars.

Zhuang Jianzhong, Vice Director, Center for National Strategy Studies, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

1. The establishment of ADIZ is a common practice for the defence of our country in the sense of early warning, not directly aimed at any other country. Now it becomes a hot topic purely because of the dispute over Diao Yue island.

2. I could not agree with this comparison. It is necessary to have a new  structure but time is not mature in view of the current disputes.

June Teufel Dreyer, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Miami

1. Yes, gauntlet thrown down at US but in a larger sense at the rest of Asia-Pacific, including Australia, that the PRC will decide the rules…particularly noticeable in the promise that more ADIZs can be expected.

2. There are parallels with 1914, but the  situation is always enough like a previous to permit easy comparison.  China’s assets are far greater than Wilhelm’s Germany, and its size and willingness to use its economic clout (ex: withholding rare earths to Japan, embargoing Philippine fruit) to get what it wants is greater.  Other powers are more likely to back down than fight back.

Lucien Ellington, Director, Asia Program, Editor, Education About Asia, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

1. The PRC is  probably probably doing this for a variety of reasons; some of which might be based upon the acquisition of energy resources, nationalism, a desire by the CCP to divert attention from a domestic economy that, for all its impressive growth, is facing serious problems, and a perception that the current American administration is weak on foreign policy/national security issues.

2. Although drawing historical parallels is tricky, there is no question that interlocking alliances, miscalculations, and blunders helped to create the catastrophe we know as World War I.  Some of those elements certainly seem present in the Senkaku/Daioyu Islands situation.

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