On the weekend of November 23, Beijing announced the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone. Covering a large swath of the East China Sea, the move was intended to assert China's control over disputed islands in the region, and predictably antagonized Beijing's relations with Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The move also prompted escalated tensions with the United States, which sent an unannounced flight of B-52 bombers through the airspace on Monday.

Coming immediately before a lengthy visit to Beijing by US Vice President Joe Biden, the fracas has raised tensions between China and the United States, while prompting questions over what could possibly come from Biden's trip to China, where the American politician spent at least 5 hours in conversation with Xi Jinping and apparently did not ask China to nullify or retract its claim for air-sovereignty.

Joining Kaiser to talk about these issues and more are two excellent Beijing-based China watchers: Jane Perlez, Chief diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, as well as Peter Ford, Bureau Chief of the Christian Science Monitor. We are delighted to have both of them on the show and hope you enjoy listening to their thoughts and more. Also, if you'd like to download a standalone copy of this podcast, please feel free to do so and share it around.
 said on
December 6, 2013
It's utterly beyond believe -- and counter to basic logic -- that the US would allow foreign military aircraft to fly through its ADIZ without identifying themselves. What's the point of an air *defense* identification zone if it only cares about civilian flights and ignores military ones?

A new article in Asia Times by Peter Lee, quoting specific texts of the US ADIZ regulations, certainly disagrees with the idea that the rules for the Chinese ADIZ were unique and more stringent than the US ones.
 said on
December 7, 2013
To say that the ADIZ of any country does not apply to military aircraft is nonsense. E.g. is the US. ADIZ was started by the US for their own benefits, and hence not regulated by any bodies internationally. The law of major countries work on precedence. The first had set the precedence, and 19 other countries followed thereafter legally.
 said on
December 7, 2013
Thanks for your responses.

I grant you that FAA regulations on US ADIZs are ambiguous. While Title 14, section 99.9 of the U.S. federal regulations states that “a person who operates a civil aircraft into an ADIZ must have a functioning two-way radio, and the pilot must maintain a continuous listening watch on the appropriate aeronautical facility’s frequency”, the section later drops the distinction between civil and other aircraft.

In practice, however, the US does not apply its ADIZ regulations to foreign military planes that are not bound for US territorial airspace.

The Russians, for example, carry out operations in the US Alaska ADIZ without filing flight plans, and though US fighters intercept and escort them, the US does not expect them to abide by any requirement to “follow instructions” as the Chinese rules demand of all foreign planes.

The point is that in international airspace, anyone can fly. Commercial airliners file flight plans as a matter of course – which means that Japan is running counter to standard practice by telling its airlines not to check in with Chinese air control – but sovereign aircraft such as military planes are NOT subject to ADIZ rules. If they are not intending to enter a coastal country’s territorial airspace they are not required to register with its ATC authorities (as China is insisting) though they ARE subject to interception.

China is absolutely within its rights to intercept foreign military planes in its ADIZ and watch where they go, but Beijing is going beyond the customary law governing such zones when it demands that they identify themselves and follow Chinese ATC instructions.

For more details on this whole question, see “Caelum Liberam”, an essay by Peter Dutton at the US Naval War College who has forgotten more about ADIZs than you or I will ever know…..


 said on
December 7, 2013
So, in other words, since any foreign military aircraft is expected to be escorted and/or intercepted anyway, they don't need to bother with self-identification. Civilian aircraft need to do so in order to avoid being harassed like military ones. Is that what you're saying?

If that's the case, the establishment of the new ADIZ gives China a natural, almost automatic cause to escort and intercept foreign military planes flying near its coast (like the routine US recon flights), including the Diaoyu/Senkaku region. That by itself would be an obvious and significant strategic win for China.
 said on
December 8, 2013
@wgj: China would garner a strategic win, but only when it submits a solution to its deficiencies in air-refueling and AWACS technology. Until that point, the air force lacks the capability to vigorously enforce its ADIZ claims. If anyone stood to gain from what many consider China's (tactically) premature assertion of its ADIZ, it would be Japan. The many islets it has stationed early warning systems on and scrambled jets from, remove much of the need for developing the same sort of in-air systems the Chinese have to. This allows Japan to build force predominance in the skies of its ADIZ; throwing the credibility of the Chinese ADIZ into doubt. This is significant, as Beijing has hinted at establishing further ADIZs in the near future. If this East China Sea ADIZ is taken to be--at least at the moment--only a rhetorical advance, then this may produce a more vigorous contestation of air space on the part of South East Asian nations that would've formerly submitted to a less antagonistic course. Or at least this is how I figure it.

 said on
December 9, 2013
This was a very quiet episode - it was hard to hear what people were saying at times.
 said on
December 10, 2013
@samspackman: The quietness is entirely due to the absence of Goldkornian interludes (i. e. shouting and swearing), I contend. :)
 said on
December 10, 2013
@kfdunne: I see a contradiction in your argument: If force predominance were a key factor for the credibility of an ADIZ, China would have the upperhand in a South China Sea ADIZ, because it currently has force predominance over the Philippines, Vietnam and others there. But if force predominance were a minor factor compared to a formal claim that is by and large justifiable in terms of international law -- which I think is the case, especially from China's point of view -- then the East China Sea ADIZ couldn't have been asserted early enough.
 said on
December 10, 2013
@wgj:You're right. Provided that you can marshall sufficient evidence to support your belief that an ADIZ is anything other than a unilateral action with minimal and ambiguous handling on the part of international law.

According to the WallStreet Journal:

"The authority to establish an ADIZ is not given by any international treaty nor prohibited by international law and is not regulated by any international body."

Your point about ASEAN capabilities vis-a-vis China is well taken however...

 said on
December 11, 2013

Beijing plays a longer game with its air defence zone grab, by Jamil Anderlini for The Financial Times


Biden Urges Restraint by China in Airspace Dispute, by Mark Landler for The New York Times (Jane Perlez contributed reporting)


Biden Faults China on Foreign Press Crackdown, by Mark Landler for The New York Times




Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, by Robert Dallek


Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, by Michael Beschloss






1. Mandarin Chinese profanity page on Wikipedia


2. Slate series: If It Happened There…

 said on
December 12, 2013
Jane Perlez's suggestion that China should have consulted other countries before announcing the ADIZ is so ridiculous. As mentioned during the show, Japan expanded its ADIZ twice in the last few years; did Japan consult with China before its ADIZ expansion? Second, China would have got the same response from Japan and US if it had actually consulted with them first. Now what do you suggest China do? Nothing? Isn't that stupid? Or if China still proceeds, wouldn't the situation be even more tense than it is now?

I just can't believe an expert could throw out such a foolish idea that is totally unrealistic without being challenged on the spot.
 said on
December 22, 2013
In past episodes on the Chinese military you have directed listeners to a specific think tank/ research organization. If I remember correctly, according to Sinica, its one of the most widely read and respected out there in regards to the Chinese military, China's defense industry, and its overall capability. I believe its out of DC and the top scholar there is an older women...?

Do you know which one I am talking about? Or perhaps at the very least could you give me a couple names of people and organizations to go check out? Thanks!
Mark Lesson Studied