Thursday, November 28, 2013

At Least WaPo Is Showing Some Sympathy for China on the ADIZ Controversy

I’ve mostly stopped critiquing media reports but I couldn’t help it this time, and since it comes within the flow of my latest stream...

The title of the WaPo piece says “China's move to establish air defense zone appears to backfire”, but what’s not to like for the Chinese authorities about a report that begins with the sentence “It was designed as a forceful response to Japanese assertiveness, and a robust declaration of China’s maritime claims”, and later offers these stories?

“Japan, like numerous other countries, already has its own air defense identification zone. The country increasingly has used the zone as an excuse to warn or intercept Chinese planes in the area, according to military experts in Beijing. In September, Japan threatened to shoot down Chinese drones flying over the disputed islands; China warned that downing the drones would constitute an act of war” (never mind that a routine fact check would have shown that the Japanese authorities carefully avoided any such commitment on the Senkakus or anywhere).

 “’Japan has been acting more and more confrontational with regards to the Diaoyu islands, so China had to roll out its own measures to balance it out,’ said Zhou Yongsheng of the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of International Relations in Beijing. ‘Whenever Chinese aircraft entered Japan’s zone, they would dispatch fighter jets to intercept us, which put us in a very passive position.’”

China is portrayed as the passive party, reacting to Japanese “assertiveness,” a trope helped by a factual error, omission of the sovereign overreach in the Chinese claim that is at the core of the complaints, and the overall lack of Japanese voices.

“David Nakamura in Washington, Chico Harlan in Seoul and Liu Liu, Li Qi and Guo Chen in Beijing contributed to this report.”

Oh. Ooohh…

So I guess my question is: Do the Chinese even need pictures?

So What Was the Reason for the Massive Chinese Overreach on Its ADIZ?

So I guess my question is, why did the Chinese authorities do something so out of the norm? Surely they were aware of their massive overreach?

A Southeast Asian diplomat that I talked to has more or less the following to say: The Chinese believe that the United States is in decline, so it did what it did to demonstrate that it would be willing to throw its weight around going forward.

I'm not 100% convinced that this is the case, but I can't think of a better explanation myself.

Why Everybody Is Furious at China for Establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone

The United States has one, Japan has one; so why is everyone so angry that China decided to have one its own? And why are its overseas supporters quiet for once? Simple. China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is a one-of-a-kind device that extends sovereign authority over international airspace.

Specifically, the Chinese authorities are demanding that all aircraft that passes through its ADIZ must provide flight plan identification, radio identification, transponder identification, and logo identification to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Civil Aviation Administration. Moreover, such aircraft “should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”

This is quite different from procedures adopted by the United States, which only “apply to aircraft bound for U.S. territorial airspace.” Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? The United States accordingly “does not recognize the right of a coastal nation to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter national airspace.” Also reasonable. Ergo the flyover by a pair of B-52 bombers, just to make the point. (The relevant paragraph is reproduced below.)

The Japanese ADIZ appears to amount to the same thing. Aircraft intending to enter Japan’s national airspace must report flight plans to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (the civil aviation authorities), which is transmitted in real time to the Air Defense Force. Otherwise, the Japanese authorities impose no reporting requirements on aircraft passing through its ADIZ.

“ Air Defense Identification Zones in International Airspace

"International law does not prohibit nations from establishing air defense identification zones (ADIZ) in the international airspace adjacent to their territorial airspace. The legal basis for ADIZ regulations is the right of a nation to establish reasonable conditions of entry into its territory. Accordingly, an aircraft approaching national airspace can be required to identify itself while in international airspace as a condition of entry approval. ADIZ regulations promulgated by the United States apply to aircraft bound for U.S. territorial airspace and require the filing of flight plans and periodic position reports. The United States does not recognize the right of a coastal nation to apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter national airspace nor does the United States apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. airspace. Accordingly, U.S. military aircraft not intending to enter national airspace should not identify themselves or otherwise comply with ADIZ procedures established by other nations, unless the United States has specifically agreed to do so."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

No the Japanese Authorities Did Not Quite Threaten to Shoot Down Drones in the Air Defense Identification Zone around the Senkaku Islands

There’s apparently some misunderstanding out there that the Japanese government warned that it would shoot down drones in the air Japanese defense identification zone around the Senkaku Islands. Since the new Chinese ADIZ raises the chances of some incident blowing up into a more serious clash, the following memo may be of some interest to anyone who chances upon this blog.

First, the Japanese authorities were referring to territorial air space, not just any "air defense [identification] zone(s)." In fact, the western part of Yonakuni Island, an undisputed (and well-inhabited) part of Okinawa had not been included in any Japanese ADIZ until the latter was expanded during the very recent DPJ administration. Most of the Japanese and Chinese ADIZs cover non-territorial air space, where aircraft are in principle free to traverse. On the other hand, all international air flight requires reporting to the proper international authorities. I do not know the details of this requirement, but sovereign states have access to this flight information, which means that all normal civilian flights in the new ADIZ (or any non-territorial airspace in any ADIZs for that matter) will continue unmolested by the Japanese or Chinese military. Of course any unreported aircraft--which likely will include most Japanese and Chinese aircraft in the area--will be subjected to proper scrutiny, i.e. demand for self-identification, warnings and the like, and ultimately attacked in self-defense in the case where there is an clear and present danger--a decision that may be made with regard to the non-territorial airspace within the ADIZ. It is unlikely that a JSDAF fighter will shoot down a Chinese drone/aircraft in the ADIZ or even in Senkaku Islands airspace just because the latter is recalcitrant or unable to identify itself. A Chinese PLA aircraft may be more gung-ho, though, and may decide to attack a JSDAF or Japanese Coast Guard aircraft that happens to fly over the new Chinese ADIZ, territorial air space in particular. (The Japanese authorities do not, to the best of my knowledge, have drones in operation in that neighborhood.) Far more likely, though, is that a Chinese pilot might close in on a JSDAF or JCG aircraft as a form of warning (or just to put a scare into the Japanese) and cause an accident. (Remember the Hainan Island Incident.)

My second caveat is that the Japanese authorities did not explicitly state that they would use weapons. It was in response to a hypothetical that the Chinese authorities directly and somewhat belligerently addressed the matter. The relevant comments from Japanese defense minister at the Sept. 10 press conference, when he addressed the matter in response to questions from the media, follow:

" Question:
Based on the current Self Defense Forces Act, my understanding is that necessary measures can be taken in order to make aircraft invading Japan's territorial airspace withdraw. However, in the theoretical case in which an unmanned aircraft invades Japan's territorial airspace and it is left alone, the situation may threaten the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and assets of Japanese people. Under such circumstances, do you think shooting the aircraft down can be an option as a last resort?
In any case, we will take necessary actions in order to defend Japan's territorial land, sea and airspace as well as protecting lives and assets of the people."


Concerning countermeasures against invasion of Japan's territorial airspace, not only by an unmanned aircraft but in any form, I presume that necessary countermeasures exclude the use of weapons that can harm the invaders, unless they are used for emergency evacuation or self-defense based on the conventional interpretation. When you said earlier, "We will take necessary actions," did you mean that the use of weapons that are harmful to the invaders is one of the options, too?

I will refrain from answering about each specific countermeasure, since doing so may reveal Japan's strategies. In any case, we will take necessary measures."