- By J. Dana StusterJ. Dana Stuster is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. He has studied at the American University of Beirut and graduated in 2010 with degrees in English and International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Before coming to FP, his work appeared in the Atlantic and the National Interest, among other publications.
The United States challenged China’s recently announced Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Monday night, flying two unarmed B-52 bombers on a scheduled training sortie into airspace which China on Saturday declared subject to new defensive measures. Despite Beijing’s blustery announcementthat any aircraft flying over a large swatch of the East China Sea would have to identify themselves and coordinate their flights with Chinese air traffic controllers, Chinese naval and air forces in the area did nothing to intercept the flight.
Washington said the flights had been scheduled weeks ago and that the timing was coincidental. Of course, scheduled flights can always be delayed, and it’s striking that wasn’t done here.
To eliminate any confusion, this is what’s known in technical terms as Washington deciding to flip the bird at Beijing.
The entire episode — both Beijing’s decision to erect the ADIZ and Washington’s decision to immediately flout it — raises an important question: Just what exactly is an ADIZ?
The policy, as it was laid out by the Chinese Ministry of Defense, is simple:
- All aircraft entering the ADIZ must report their flight plans to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Civil Aviation Administration.
- All aircraft in the ADIZ must maintain radio contact with Chinese authorities.
- All aircraft in the ADIZ must comply with instructions from Chinese authorities.
“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,” the Defense Ministry warned. But the ADIZ is not a ban on flying through certain airspace — in other words, it’s definitely not a no-fly zone. Rather, it’s a check-in-and-let-us-know-you’re-coming zone.
China’s new ADIZ isn’t unique, either. The United States also has an ADIZ that extends 20 to 30 miles into the sea along its borders. Japan stoked its territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea earlier this year when in June it adjusted its own ADIZ around Yonaguni Island, pushing it into airspace that Taiwan claims as its own. In October, Japan floated new procedures to shoot down Chinese drones operating in what Tokyo claims is Japanese airspace.
The real controversy is the extent of China’s ADIZ, not that it has one in the first place. The map China released on Nov. 23 asserts control over almost all of the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and sweeping northeast toward the southern tip of Japan’s Kyushu Island and the Korean peninsula. That’s prompted concerns that China is using its ADIZ to try to edge out its rivals in the East China Sea — closing the area to certain Japanese, Korean, and U.S. flights.
But to do that, China would have to enforce its approximately California-sized claim to airspace in the East China Sea — which it declined to do when two American B-52s flew through yesterday.
Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent. He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone. He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy. Among his scoops, Lamothe reported exclusively in 2010 that the Marine Corps had recommended that Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer receive the Medal of Honor. This year, he was part of a team of journalists that exposed senior Marine Corps leaders' questionable involvement in legal cases, and then covering it up. A Pentagon investigation is underway in those cases.| The Complex |
Is China planning more zones?; Afg accuses coalition of withholding support; Peace talks ‘tween Af-Pak progress; The Dutch double down in Mali; The Duffel Blog, unmasked, and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |