Mainland China's Air Defense Identification Zone: A Turning Point in Sino-Japanese Relations
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
November 25, 2013
Summary: Superficially the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty dispute is between China
and Japan. But the United States has a return to Asia strategy. The US
and Japan have carefully manipulated the situation. They have turned it
into a confrontation between Mainland China and a US-Japan axis. This
has forced Beijing to be especially careful in dealing with the
Diaoyutai Islands issue. This is why Mainland China has remained
passive on the Diaoyutai Islands "nationalization" dispute. This is why
it has sent UAVs into the airspace over the Diaoyutai Islands to test
Washington's bottom line.
Full text below:
Mainland China's Ministry of Defense recently announced its Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea. One aspect of the zone attracted the most attention. The Diaoyutai Island waters, which Taipei, Tokyo, and Beijing all lay claim to, is included in the identification zone. The move has elicited strong protests from Tokyo and criticism from Washington. Sino-Japanese relations have been deadlocked for some time. They are now certain to heat up once more.
Last April Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara touched off a firestorm by proposing to "purchase" the Diaoyutai Islands. Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated in three stages. It went from economic warfare to political warfare to diplomatic warfare.
One. Last April a storm of controvery over the "purchase" of the islands erupted. By last September Prime Minister Noda had "nationalized" the islands. This was the economic war phase. Nationalist and anti-Japanese sentiment erupted on the Chinese mainland. Wave upon wave of boycotts of Japanese goods took place, and anti-Japanese protests erupted. Japanese companies suffered significant economic losses. The intent was to use economics to influence politics. The intent was to use Japanese companies to pressure the Japanese government, in the hopes of changing its Diaoyutai Islands "nationalization" policy.
Two. Between "nationalization" and this February, when Mainland China's radars locked on Japanese aircraft, constituted the political war stage. Mainland China's ocean surveillance vessels began regular patrols of waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands. Meanwhile, the East China Sea Fleet entered waters around Naguo Island and Shitan Island. The fire control radars of Mainland Chinese warships locked onto Japanese warships. Sino-Japanese tensions reached a new high. Since then relations between the two governments have been deadlocked.
Three. Between the radar lock incident and now, constitutes the diplomatic war stage. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to revive the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" policy of the Tara Aso era. It is aggressively using financial assistance to curry favor with ASEAN countries. It is using diplomatic encirclement to "contain" Mainland China. Japan has sold 20 more coast guard cutters to the Philippines. It plans to export weapons to strengthen relations between Japan and Southeast Asian countries.
Based on past experience, we believe Mainland China suddenly announced its East China Sea air defense identification zone as a legalization measure. It wants to ensure that it is on the same legal footing as Japan in any confrontation over the islands' sovereignty.
In the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty dispute, Beijing and Tokyo are currently on unequal footings. Japan has de facto control of the islands. It also has the advantage of having "nationalized" them. Last September, Noda announced the "nationalization" of the Diaoyutai Islands. Mainland China dispatched coast guard cutters and normalized patrols. Its goal was to break Japan's one-sided, de facto control over the Diaoyutai Islands. It entered the airspace over the Diaoyutai Islands to force Japan to admit the existence of a sovereignty dispute.
These two measures are not permanent and are quite flexible. They can be suspended unilaterally, any time. Mainland China appears to have plenty of wriggle room on the Diaoyutai Islands issue. Its motive at the moment is to resolve the dispute rather than reassert sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands. As long as Japan recognizes that sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands is in dispute and retracts its nationalization measures, the sovereignty dispute can be settled.
Unfortunately as matters stand, Japan has rejected Mainland China's proposals. The Japanese side persists in foot-dragging. Under the circumstances, Mainland China was forced to resort to legalistic means and declare an air defense identification zone. It was forced to seek an equal legal footing with Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands issue. Legalization is a sugar coating on top of the sovereignty issue. It diminishes the maneuvering room for dispute resolution. It will make the Diaoyutai Islands dispute even less soluble.
Consider the facts. We believe that Mainland China's inclusion of the Diaoyutai Islands into its East China Sea air defense identification zone is a pre-emptive maneuver. By the end of this year Washington and Tokyo intend to modify their Diaoyutai Islands guidelines. The purpose of the legal measures was military intimidation.
Superficially the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty dispute is between China and Japan. But the United States has a return to Asia strategy. The US and Japan have carefully manipulated the situation. They have turned it into a confrontation between Mainland China and a US-Japan axis. This has forced Beijing to be especially careful in dealing with the Diaoyutai Islands issue. This is why Mainland China has remained passive on the Diaoyutai Islands "nationalization" dispute. This is why it has sent UAVs into the airspace over the Diaoyutai Islands to test Washington's bottom line.
After Abe assumed power, Japan dispatched a special envoy to Beijing. It hoped for political dialogue to ease bilateral relations. On the other hand, Abe also increased preparedness in Diaoyutai Islands waters. He called for an aggressive defense of the Diaoyutai Islands, and a modification of the US-Japan defense guidelines. His double-dealing forced the Mainland to be more aggressive and to seize the initiative in the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty dispute.
In short Mainland China's announcement of its East China Sea air defense identification zone was the first step in affirming its sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, as well as ensuring its legalization. This will be a turning point in Sino-Japanese relations. Tokyo and Taipei have clashed over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands. Now the East China Sea has been transformed into a "Chinese lake." This will gradually lead to military clashes with Washington and Tokyo. Taipei is part of the East China Sea and Diaoyutai Islands dispute. It must of course respond as soon as possible.
2013.11.25 04:13 am