Friday, 29 November 2013

Escalating Tensions

China's air defense identification zone created this week
China's establishment of an air defense identification zone has not only come as a shock to everyone in the region as well as the United States, but it is also escalating quickly.

Today it sent its fighter jets into the area after US and Japanese planes flew into the zone without filing flight plans to China.

This week's sudden declaration of the area that includes the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands was made without consultation with anyone and shows that Beijing's military hawks are playing this round.

How much of a blessing they have from President Xi Jinping is unknown, but the fact that so far no one has filed flight plans with Beijing has basically meant the proverbial middle finger at China.

The first to dare China was the US, sending two unarmed B-52 bombers over the zone, with Beijing sending a warning aircraft and jet fighters into the area, tracking the American planes. South Korea has also flown through the zone.

Apparently Beijing will not resort to military action unless it detects hostile intentions, but that can be subjective and also could lead to nervous fingers on triggers, thus escalating tensions.

China is not the first to establish this zone -- in fact Japan did that in 1969 and expanded it in 2010, sending military aircraft to fly through the area without prior notification.

As a result, China is doing the same thing, with defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun saying, "We would like to ask Japan to revoke its own ADIZ first. China will then consider this request in 44 years," referring to its setting up the zone in 1969.

If this isn't a tit-for-tat, we don't know what it is. We might add here that according to Time magazine, any nation can create ADIZs and have no global legal significance, which is different from a nation's internationally recognized air space and no-fly zones. 

The fact that China has escalated the situation with constant military patrols and other countries brazenly defying Beijing's rules could lead to escalating conflicts of a military kind.

The Chinese military is keen to flex its muscles, but it seems to be doing it in a very childish way but with expensive toys.

We just worry that someone will make a mistake or there is a misunderstanding that could inadvertently lead to a bad situation.

Or Beijing's leaders are letting the military hawks blow off their steam and then will eventually corral them back into the pen.

We shall see.

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