Q. & A.: Rory Medcalf on the Meaning of China’s Air Defense Zone – NYTimes.com

What should we make of friction regarding the Diaoyu (China)/Senkaku (Japan) island zone?

Rory Medcalf, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, argues that China miscalculated and that the United States should use the moment to persuade China and others to establish mechanisms in the region to minimize the risk of an incident that could trigger a conflict. The following are edited excerpts from an email interview with Mr. Medcalf:

via Q. & A.: Rory Medcalf on the Meaning of China’s Air Defense Zone – NYTimes.com.


9 thoughts on “Q. & A.: Rory Medcalf on the Meaning of China’s Air Defense Zone – NYTimes.com”

  1. I think it is perfectly reasonable for China to establish an air defense zone. Especially if they claim these islands. It is not a military attack, it is a safer way to assert its claim on these islands. China has still made its point that they consider these islands part of their country, but without directly confronting Japan. Mr. Medcalf even explained that this was not a territorial claim, technically China just said they want to know who is flying towards their territory. I think this was a smart move from China.

  2. While China has every right to know who is flying towards their territory, aren’t there already aviation laws in place requiring anyone in an airplane, especially one going overseas, to log a flight plan? This just seems an excessive move meant to intimidate Japan. Also, until the countries, possibly with the aid of the UN can finally agree on who has legitimate claim to these islands, I don’t see why either country should be allowed to declare an air defense zone that encompasses them. I hope China doesn’t start engaging in heightened threats with its neighbors as an attempt to frighten its neighbors into relinquishing claims on territories that are legitimately theirs. We don’t need another North Korea, especially one with all the resources of China.

  3. I remember an reading interesting article a while back about the increasing conflict between Japan and China in the East China Sea. It is a tension filled area and the military power of both countries is fearsome. Yesterday in the New York Times there was an article about Biden’s role in assuring the United States commitment to the Japanese effort. The most pressing part of that article in my opinion was the mention of rising doubts concerning America. “The United States might no longer have the financial ability, or even the will, to maintain its dominant military position in the Asia-Pacific.” As china thrives and develops innovating military technology, the United States struggles. This is a scary thought to me.

  4. Although the timing was extremely foolish for China declaring this ADIZ due to Biden visiting China right now, China has every right to this zone. Not only does the United States’ zone encompass all of Canada and other countries’ territories, but before now China never had an ADIZ, which is can be considered crucial to national security because otherwise planes only have to declare themselves when they are within the legal 12 miles of a country’s border. Moreover, if this does have something to do with the DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands, good for China! Japan is belligerent in denying any dispute over the islands and is completely unwilling to even come to the table to negotiate. If the ADIZ makes them finally acknowledge a legitimate dispute exists and Japan finally agrees to negotiate, then that will be awesome!! To the comment that the UN might help solve this conflict, based on the strong nationalism of both nations, I do not believe their strong idea of face would allow them to have a mediator; it might make them seem weak that they can’t solve their own problems.

  5. Well, I do believe that this is a smart move from China and it’s absolutely their right to control who’s actually flying towards their territory and the US clearly has a major role to be played in helping to solve the A.D.I.Z question.
    The question is whether US intervention will be done via B-52 flights or trusted referee in diplomatic negotiations between China and neighboring countries. However, as historians like to point out, old habits die hard in powerful military empires.

  6. It seams to me that actions such as this are simply an attempt by China to intimidate or bully Japan, who currently administers (and in a practical sense) controls the disputed islands. They have been under Japanese control since at least 1895, and China only contested the claim after oil was discovered under the islands in the 1970s. I think it is wrong that in the years since then, China has used its diplomatic and military power to try and bring these islands under its control. Japan currently owns the islands, and if the Chinese government has a problem with that fact, they should be pursuing diplomatic solutions, rather than what they are currently doing. This is not uncommon behavior for China though. From Tibet to Taiwan to the Korean Peninsula, China consistently uses military measures to accomplish diplomatic and strategic goals.

  7. I agree with Jack. I also think that by establishing its own air zone, China is trying to gain international attention to their “rights to the islands.” By doing this, China is hoping that a formal meeting will occur with Japanese leaders. I also think that creating a air zone is China’s way of supplementing their importance in the world and their emergence as a world power, after all, the United States has one. In the end, China wants to be internationally recognized.

  8. This is becoming a more and more tense situation, and it won’t be easy to solve. After all, it has hundreds of years of context. From a diplomatic standpoint, I suppose it was a smart move, considering that it leaves Japan and the United States with an awkward decision to make. If they change their behavior, they are implicitly acknowledging Chinese authority in the area. In addition, PM Abe has publicly stated (according to this article: http://goo.gl/WKHlyA) that Japan will shoot down foreign drones, which in my opinion extends to any foreign military aircraft. Of course, now that China upped the ante and established its ADIZ over the islands, China will have aircraft flying in airspace that Japan also claims. If Japan doesn’t shoot down those aircraft, they are, again, implicitly acknowledging Chinese authority over the area.

    It’s a lose-lose scenario. And China has already betting on Japan bluffing. But, just because you get your bluff called doesn’t mean you lose the game. It’ll be interesting to see how this issue evolves. Maybe the US can broker a deal where Japan publicly apologizes for past war crimes and China cedes the islands. Win-Win-Win?

  9. This is an interesting topic because territoriality is always a concern among several different countries. Issues that involve several countries and their concerns become largely discussed topics in the international community. There are pretty definite lines on water territory, and land territory, but it isn’t as common to determine aerial territory, and for that reason it is a big deal what China has been doing. This is majorly related to te islands disputed in the sea of china, but there will be many other implications especially as the USA gets involved.

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