Air Defence Identification Zone

China confident of no military conflict over air defence zones

None of the governments involved want to risk instability in the region, analysts say, as Australia calls for a reduction in tensions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 6:27am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 6:27am

Beijing is confident regional tensions will stabilise without military conflict after neighbouring countries and the United States have had time to adjust to its air defence identification zone, Chinese analysts said.

The Ministry of National Defence's creation of the zone over most of the East China Sea two weeks ago has drawn a mix of criticism, condemnation and defiance from China's neighbours, including relatively friendly ones.

South Korea, for instance, is preparing to expand its own zone to cover a disputed rock. Its president, Park Geun-hye, who has been seen as more open to expanded Chinese ties than her predecessors, announced plans to work closely with US on the issue after meeting US Vice-President Joe Biden on Friday.

The sabre-rattling was unlikely to result in a conflict because none of the governments involved wanted to risk instability in the region, said Shi Yinhong , an international relations professor at Renmin University. He said Beijing approached the zone's creation "patiently and skilfully".

"That's why we haven't seen any actual conflicts so far, because the three sides - Beijing, Washington and Tokyo - all made efforts to prevent any military stand-offs in the air."

Shi believed the zone was there to stay and other nations would have to accept it. "It's impossible for Beijing to withdraw [it]."

Criticism of the zone continued yesterday, as visiting Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop ignored warnings from Beijing and reiterated concerns about the move.

"Australia is concerned about peace and stability in our region and we don't want to see any escalation of tensions," she said in Beijing. "We want to see a de-escalation."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday warned Australia against "undermining bilateral mutual trust" by criticising the air defence zone.

Meanwhile, the US urged Beijing to "immediately lower tensions" and set up an emergency hotlines to avoid confusion in the disputed area.

"China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels to address the dangers that its recent announcement has created," US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Jin Canrong , of Renmin University's school of international studies, said Beijing had certainly expected such responses. "China has been well-prepared for all possible scenarios, including possible conflicts between fighter jets from China and Japan," Jin said. "Unless the US decides to get directly involved, everything so far is under control for Beijing."