Liberty Times: What do you think are the strategic calculations behind China’s unilateral announcement of the ADIZ?
Joanne Chang (裘兆琳): Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has repeatedly mentioned his “Chinese dream” and called for the establishment of a “new type of major-power relationship” between the US and China, saying that the Pacific Ocean is large enough to accommodate the two great powers.
The most important question is: How exactly does the new Chinese president plan on fulfilling that “dream?”
China established a state security committee after the conclusion of the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee on Nov. 12. Now it is time for it to execute its plans one by one.
Over the past years, Japan has made several moves to bolster its claims over the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台). It expanded its ADIZ [in the East China Sea by 22km] in June 2010 before nationalizing the archipelago in September last year. Such provocative moves have prompted China to put even more thought into mapping out countermeasures against Japan’s aggression. Their relationship has tensed up drastically as a result, with China urging Japan to acknowledge the existence of a territorial dispute over the island chain.
Japanese media reported recently that China now intends to make the 12 nautical mile [22.2km] zone off the islands an off-limits area [to all vessels], a goal I believe was set after careful consideration of a number of other options.
China announced the new ADIZ line on Nov. 23, the date when the 1943 Cairo Conference began in Egypt. Hours after the announcement, news emerged that the P5+1 countries [in reference to the five permanent members of the UN, the US, the UK, Russia, China and France, as well as Germany] had reached a six-month interim agreement with Iran in Geneva to curb its nuclear program.
Over the past few months, peaceful settlement of disputes, be it the Israel-Palestine conflict, Syria’s chemical weapons issue or Egypt’s political stalemate, has become mainstream in the international arena. A trend that leads me to believe that China’s ADIZ announcement was meant to help it gain more leverage in future negotiations with the US and Japan in the Diaoyutai Islands dispute.
China’s ambition to develop a relationship [with the US] can be seen from a speech given by its foreign minister Wang Yi (王毅) [in Washington] in September, in which he said there was vast room for US-China bilateral cooperation, such as on regional hotspot issues regarding Iran, North Korea, Syria and even Afghanistan. In the meantime, China expressed hope that the US could respect its “core interests” that include Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and the South China Sea, as well as the strategically important Diaoyutai Islands.
However, actions always speak louder than words. It is likely that China made the move [announcing the ADIZ] only to see how the US would react.
LT: What kinds of negotiation strategies do you think China adopted [in announcing the ADIZ]?
Chang: There are various types of international negotiations, but the most difficult kind is the one that aims to redistribute regional resources or, in other words, to change the “status quo” in a specific area.
Such a negotiation is often initiated by an aggressive nation with the aim of forcing other concerned parties to positively respond to its demands. One of the approaches is to create a sense of urgency by stirring up regional crises, allowing it to push others into talks on issues of its own choosing.