• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:50pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 4:27am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 4:27am

Security, not power, is Beijing's goal in air defence zone dispute

"The gains from control over a few uninhabited rocks are vastly outweighed by the risks."

Here's a comment by a respected British commentator that perfectly summarises the bafflement of outsiders about China's territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Face, nationalism, historical grievances, anti-Americanism, anti-Japanese sentiments, regional dominance or hegemony ... Critics have marshalled one or more of these elements to explain China's behaviour. Or, China is Germany 1914 all over again. Funny how no one ever cited Bismarck's unified Germany after 1870, whose diplomacy secured European peace for a generation.

To a disinterested observer, all those China "explanations" must seem unconvincing or unsatisfying. First, is Beijing staking its foreign policy on nationalist feelings over the Diaoyu Islands? Or is it the other way around: the nationalist/historical issue over the Diaoyus is only part of an overall foreign policy - but doesn't drive or explain it? One thing you know for sure is that imposing an "air defence identification zone" that includes the Diaoyus is not an ad hoc, one- step-at-a-time dumb chess move. It's part of an overall strategic conception with its own goal, purpose and rationale.

Let's start with the Hobbesian thesis: every country feels threatened or insecure; China especially so. Despite its new-found wealth, its military can't fight overseas other than invading Taiwan. Its shipping and supply lanes are patrolled by a powerful rival, the US, and it's encircled geographically by countries allied to the US. Its hold on Tibet and Xinjiang are constantly challenged. It can buy client states in Africa and Latin America but has no genuine defence allies. The overwhelming foreign policy goal of Beijing is therefore not dominance but security. Within this framework, sometimes it goes along with other world powers, such as over Iran's and North Korea's nuclear ambitions; sometimes it provokes them, such as with the air defence zone. Sometimes, it just miscalculates. So is China a status quo or revisionist power? The best answer is: it doesn't want to overthrow the US-led international security and economic architecture, but demands adjustments within it.


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This article is now closed to comments

What you see after this reply comment
is a repeat of mogician’s logically insensible performance
Lol followed by faith mantra about what to believe and disbelieve
testimonies that he should have saved for fellowship assemblies
The last forum’s closure for comments saved magician from breakdown
Let me help him this time:
Keep cool though you’ve better than good reasons to be nervous
I’ve never intended to take advantage of your obvious weaknesses
So don’t intimidate yourself intellectually
Tell us what’s your version of facts
relevant background that you believe to be true?
You really do have delusions of adequacy and of intelligence. Man, why is it that the CCP is always supported by people of such low intellect, poor logic, and aversion towards independent thought. It's as though someone with a brain could never qualify to be a CCP apologist...nor would they want to, I suspect.
If you threw a ball off a boat, you couldn't hit water. So worry not, Pierce m'boy, your "capabilities" are of no concern to me. Why would anyone be intimidated by empty space? I have no doubt you're a physical entity; intellectually, you're of no consequence to me.
Anyway, what I believe to be true wrt this topic was already included in my initial comment. I'd suggest that you read more carefully, but that assumes the ability to read to begin with. And if you're reading comprehension is on par with your written composition, that assumption would be a flawed one.
But yes, I'm glad that last thread closed with whymak's comment. Nice way to highlight his "logic" where people can be asked to prove a negative. Like I said, CCP apologists are people too...just not very intelligent or educated ones.
LOL, you really are a CCP butt kisser of the highest order. From that article you quoted, "Beijing insists it has the right to set up the zone, as a means of self-defence,". And because that's what Beijing says, that's what you believe? Dude, I've got several bridges that I'm sure you'd love to buy. I'd write it off to simply being incredibly naive and gullible, but being that it's you, I think it's again just the CCP apologist DNA shining through. As I said before, the penetrance of that genotype can be astounding.
I guess that's what you call "background knowledge"...stuff that only idiots would believe hook/line/sinker. I had you pegged in that category all along, but I hadn't labelled Mr. Lo necessarily as such. It's unfortunate you had to besmirch his good name.
Anyway, you're allowed to have your opinion, of course. Crazy stupid CCP apologists are people too, after all.
Looks to me like by "best answer" you mean "best guess". Sorry but I don't find this any more convincing than the many other theories you've mentioned. Of course the truth is most likely a combination.
China’s important economic coastal cities must be well protected. It’s almost a matter of life and death. Whether China can fully enforce the right to the zone is another matter.
It’s stupid to start a military conflict because too many human lives and too much economic wealth are at stake.
Besides ‘threatening’ our Asian neighbours through the air DEFENCE zones, China can at the same time buy Asian friends using money. Please read Hu Shuli’s article ‘China will benefit from investing in others’ infrastructure development’ published this morning.
As an emergency measure (say to prepare for a sudden QE taper), swap lines should also be set up between China and other Asian neighbours. Please visit ****www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/katharina-pistor-crticizes-the-new-great-divide-in-international-monetary-management.
Now China certainly needs a Bismarck-like leader.
John Adams
Good summary Mr Lo.
I agree with you.
Declaring an ADIZ, in and of itself, could conceivably be about "security". But the specifics of this zone clearly point to other motivations. I mean, if it's just "security", why overlap with someone else's zone, and why specifically overlap on the Diaoyu Islands. No, this is about oil and gas reserves those islands are suspected to have under the sea floor, and maybe about some fish stocks. Of course, if it stokes the flames of mindless nationalism, that's probably ok too insofar as Beijing is concerned.
The irony about the whole "security" song and dance is that this does the exact opposite. If it's 'encirclement' that China fears, her moves simply encourage the US and SE Asian nations to pivot towards each other, so Beijing's actions only serve to enhance that which she fears.




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