Opinion: China strikes balance between sovereignty and stability
By Shen Dingli, Professor at Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0521 GMT (1321 HKT)
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0521 GMT (1321 HKT)
Editor's note: Shen Dingli is a professor and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. The opinions in this article are solely those of Shen Dingli.
(CNN) -- Since President Xi Jinping assumed power, he's reshaped China's foreign policy by recalibrating its stresses on sovereignty and stability, what the Chinese call wei quan and wei wen.
On the one hand, China has stepped up its emphasis on sovereignty, especially concerning its territorial dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands (or the Senkakus, as they're known in Japan).
Beijing has streamlined its various maritime agencies to make them more efficient and better coordinated, and it keeps sending government vessels to the area to demonstrate its jurisdiction over this region.
READ: China flies fighter jets into air defense zone
More recently, it announced a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea to assure its sovereign security over territory, territorial water and space in the ADIZ.
On the other hand, China has attached more importance to its peripheral stability. Despite its earlier skirmish over Ladakh with India in May, it cut a border defense co-operation agreement with New Delhi, to avoid mutual tailing between their patrols in border areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control.
And recently, President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang visited five out of 10 ASEAN countries, and wrapped up a cooperative deal with Vietnam to jointly develop an oil well in the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin. China has also furthered its relations with major powers -- Xi visited Russia and the U.S. within the first three months of coming to power, promoting a "new type of major country relationship."
However, the quest for sovereignty and stability at the same time could prove challenging. China's ADIZ announcement is turning into such a case.
Origins of the ADIZ
he concept and practice of ADIZ are not China's invention. Rather, it was invented by the U.S. in 1951, with a purpose of identifying, through various means, incoming aircraft toward North America. An ADIZ would usually be much bigger than one's territorial space, to allow sufficient time for such identification.
READ: China-Japan dispute: What you need to know
Last weekend, the Chinese government announced its East China Sea ADIZ, asking foreign military planes flying over this area to identify themselves or, if necessary, the government would take defensive military action to enforce their identification.
It is noted that the ADIZ is a national mandate, rather than demanded by any international law. Therefore, any other country has to make its own sovereign choice to follow or not.
The establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ looks to be China's latest attempt to stress sovereignty and stability. The purpose of such identification is to assure China's sovereignty over its airspace without disrupting the international law of freedom of flight through international airspace.
Obviously, China is able to identify those foreign civilian airlines which routinely fly to and from China. China will also be able to monitor and identify some foreign military aircraft flying over this zone. Establishing such a zone would allow China, ideally, additional time to predict if some of the flights over the area would be harmful and, consequently, if its defense establishment should take precautionary measures.
Challenge to status quo?
As establishing an ADIZ is a national endeavor rather than one mandated by international law, it is predictable other stakeholders could view it a challenge to the status quo, which suits their national interests.
Soon after China's ADIZ was announced, the U.S. sent two B-52 bombers into the new air zone on what the U.S. says was a pre-planned trip. It is understood that the U.S. strategic bombers neither loaded bombs nor were escorted by jet fighters, and didn't go too close to China's territorial space, signaling that the mission was not intended as a military threat.
Such a restrained challenge seems to have led China to properly balance its quest for sovereignty and stability.
If and when China's newly declared ADIZ is truly challenged, as long as China could identify the incoming foreign aircraft and manage the challenge to a certain degree, China would not send aircraft to "greet" them. But certainly, if the incoming foreign aircraft did not respond to China's query of identity, and if China detected a threatening posture, its air force would act in a defensive way.
hough the U.S. has presented its challenge to China establishing such a zone, the country's ADIZ may have more to do with Japan
Japan's own ADIZ has been as close as to 130 kilometers from China, and includes the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, Islands. If China's inclusion of Diaoyu Islands is intolerable to Japan due to their dispute over this area, Japan's inclusion of the same islands, some four decades ago, has much earlier provoked a similar degree of irritation.
。Japan's establishment of its ADIZ was a breach of the status quo at that time. Japan further pushed the envelope last year by "nationalizing" the main islands, representing another effort to break the existing status quo. Its persistent changing of the status quo cannot go unchallenged.
China's efforts to strike a balance between sovereignty and stability are destined to be difficult. However, facing increasing security challenges, Beijing is likely to respond in kind, while abiding by international law.
READ: Japan defies China's air defense zone
The opinions in this article are solely those of Shen Dingli, a professor and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Many people just think bad on China when it created ADIZ without realizing that Japan estiblished its ADIZ long time ago. Just like they feel bad when China has a fence but they feel fine that Japan has a fence.
-"they feel bad when China has a fence but they feel fine that Japan has one" because peaceful Japan has never ever invaded China in human history. lol!
who cares about 100 years ago...now in 2013...It is China that wants Islands fro mSouth Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philipines. ..its about that
Cool so in 40 years Tibet can no longer say they want to be Independent because who cares about what happenend 100 years ago.
No one gave a damn about these islands until petroleum was found.
This is a resource war, pure and simple.
All the historical claims, nationalism and the rest of the propaganda is nothing more than whipping up a frenzy in order to get the resources. It is about money and greed on both sides.
China routinely whips out the argument that because at some point in the last 3000 some leader from some part of what is now the geographic area of China occupied an area. In some cases the claims are based on invasions and occupations that lasted less than a centurey before the areas were recaptured by their indigenous peoples or by other countries and empires. It is all about the politics of hurt feelings and it is almost always a game about resources, greed or both.
The reality is that all of the countries involved in this mess are behaving like silly spoilt children and many of the arguments are what you would expect from a 5 year old.
it's true that the economic value of the islands is one reason both sides are fighting for, but from the pure historical point of view, China has its people first discovered and claimed sovereignty of these islands much earlier than the Japanese do.
Just for your additional info, after World War 2, the Cairo Declaration stated clearly that all Japan occupied Chinese territory must be returned to China and at the same time, according to Postdam Declaration, Japanese sovereignty is limited to Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku ONLY, not even including Okinawa. So, technically speaking Okinawa also does not belong to today's Japan. The reason that Japan claims Okinawa is because the US has allowed it for the right of administration.
wrong Japan is the owner and chinacalone is causing problems
your interpretation of these treaties is flawed. nevertheless Japans been in control for decades and china has never been .the matter could be easily settled in court but china refusal indicates fear of the outcome
US is causing problems since they should just mind their own business on the other side of the globe.
Ryan G（回复H K）
The US has to remain involved in international matters to keep peace and stability. The US has helped to avoid wars from happening.
Not true, what the US government is doing is backing Japan to provoke China. Just like asking your son to provoke other kids while intimidating the kid with your muscle.
dreadman82（回复 H K）
Well HK this area is kind of their business, its 2 major allies, US bases and the fact that Japan and Filipines is all that lay between them and an increasingly unfriendly China that seems to think annexing real estate is still in fashion
Though I agree with you.
But that Observation solves nothing.
It just makes China look petty.
Even if China does make some bogus document up, who is to say that is fake?
Anyone disputing the authenticity of that document will be a speculator and a speculation frankly solves nothing.
japan has possession 90 % of the law who cares about chinas documents
Japan has no possession rights。
they have the deed of ownership china has nothing