Monday, December 2, 2013

So who's cocking a snook at whom?

Those three days spent blogging on Geylang meant having now to catch up on other stuff.

A major international furore is still going on over China's recent establishment of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over areas that include territories whose ownership is in dispute. China, Japan, South Korea and even Taiwan are those parties involved. Even the USA got into the act, dispatching two B-52H heavy bombers over the Chinese ADIZ.

Military aircraft from Japan, South Korea and even Taiwan (which previously seldom challenged China over disputed areas such as the South China Sea) have entered the ADIZ at will, cocking a snook at Beijing, if you will (the silhouette below, from, graphically explains this expression).

China, then, seems to have been shown up to be a "paper tiger". Indeed, analyses such as these two below follow the conventional argument:

I had taken this conventional view too but this article in today's ST (Dec 2) made me do a rethink regarding China's real target and its longer-term aim:

And, as if to reinforce the point, this Global Times article (and its accompanying none-too-subtle illustration) makes clear China's ultimate aim:

China's ADIZ is for more than just Diaoyu sovereignty

Here are the article's concluding lines:

In the short run, China can take one step and look around before taking another, since China has all the initiative and flexibility on how and to what extent such rules will be implemented.

An uninvited presence over another country's ADIZ was and is a way to claim rights and show concern. If others can do this to China, China can do this to others. China's grand strategy aims for a future role as a great power, and Japan is just a current concern for the time being.

The establishment of an ADIZ aims at larger strategic goals than the Diaoyu Islands and will aid China's strategic initiatives in the long run.


So, who's cocking a snook at whom? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, for China's leaders, they have to convince the country's legions of restless netizens that it is not a paper tiger that is being made to eat humble pie. For the sake of regional stability -- and a check on that dreaded spiral of miscalculations -- I hope it can do that, time and again.

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