Friday, November 29, 2013

Technological progress gave China confidence to declare ADIZ: analysts

 I was asked earlier today by a journalist for some insight on what may happen in this situation.  Here are my musings.

I am afraid I do not have any real insight on this.  I can only offer you my opinion and say that we have surely entered the ultimate Chinese curse: "may you live in interesting times."  We are sure to see some interesting times ahead.  But I am hesitant to speculate on what may happen or what the real Chinese intentions are.

I would say that although we are going to support our allies (both Japan and the Republic of Korea) I think what most security specialists will say is that the US military will continue to fly through the ADIZ to ensure freedom of navigation and to prevent a de facto ceding to the Chinese the disputed territory and air space.  Some may argue that if they are successful in this gambit that they will establish other ADIZs  throughout the South China Sea and therefore claim other disputed territories which cannot be allowed to take place.  Others may argue that the Chinese have blundered and miscalculated.   Still others may argue that the Chinese actions may justify why it needs to establish its own National Security Council as discussed at the Third Plenum because of past foreign affairs and national security blunders and miscalculations (e.g., the EP-3 incident and the testing of the "stealth" aircraft during Secretary Gates trip to China).  Along these lines others may argue that this is for domestic internal politics in China.  And still others who study the Eastern way of war would argue that the obvious action is not the real action action as all warfare is based on deception.  I think a key question that we should try to understanding (assuming this is not a blunder or miscalculation or just some other attempt to overcome the 100 years of humiliation and make people show respect for China) is what are the Chinese trying to achieve?  How does the ADIZ help the Chinese in some way?  Or is the ADIZ a diversion and what seemingly unrelated objective might the Chinese be trying to achieve?  Some would say that the Chinese are presenting the exact threat that many American security specialists have been saying and that many security specialists want – a perfect bi-polar security threat that would allow for another NSC 68 like grand strategy of containment focused on the new communist threat posed by China rather than the former USSR.  China could very well giving us the threat we want while developing threats we do not see and thus ensuring we build our military capabilities toward the threats we want vice the threats that may be more real.  Unfortunately I do not know what those threats might be.

I mention all of the above just to illustrate some of the unknowns and how hard it is to try to assess the Chinese, US and alliance responses.  My sense is that there will be strong pressure in the US security community along the lines of this ADIZ cannot stand and that we must assert our freedom of navigation rights through international airspace and we cannot allow any country to arbitrarily establish such ADIZs (and of course the counter argument is that the US has established such ADIZs).

I think we will see continued US air activities challenging the ADIZ. I do not see the Chinese having the capability to permanently enforce the ADIZ or deny aircraft from transiting it. They will likely send up aircraft and there will be pilots playing games of chicken much like during the Cold War.  But of course there is a chance for miscalculation.  We should remember that the Chinese pilot who clipped the EP-3 was named Lieutenant Wong Wei (we would say "wrong way" for the joke) and although that is humorous I think it is also illustrative that military operations and war takes place in the realm of chance in Clausewitz' trinity (and of course the other two being passion and reason).  My fear is that chance and passion may dominate in this situation when reason on the part of the governments involved does not restrain or temper the other two.

Technological progress gave China confidence to declare ADIZ: analysts

Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 3:40am
Minnie Chan
Improvements in the People's Liberation Army's air surveillance and control systems helped give Beijing the confidence to create its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, military experts said.
China is the last major power in the region to set up such an identification zone, as effectively policing the area requires advanced coastal and airborne radar systems and the capability to track, identify and monitor numerous flying objects simultaneously.
For years, the PLA struggled to obtain such technologies and develop its own airborne early-warning systems. Western countries put an embargo on the sale to Beijing of the necessary equipment after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, the country finally had the hardware and software to police its own ADIZ, said Xu Guangyu , a retired PLA general.
"The declaration is not only a testament to China's awareness of the need to protect its rights in the air and at sea, it also shows the PLA's capabilities of mastering the technology," Xu said.
"The PLA's air defence systems have undergone some major upgrades over the years, achieving improvements in early-warning equipment, air reconnaissance and surveillance that enable the military to deal with all sorts of foreign flying objects entering into the Chinese air defence identification zone," he added.
The centrepieces of China's new air surveillance system are the airborne early-warning and control systems developed by the PLA. China is one of only four countries - Israel, Russia and the United States being the others - to have mastered such systems.
The military unveiled its KJ-200 and KJ-2000 early-warning aircraft in 2009. Beijing has refused to disclose the exact number of the airplanes in service.
(Continued at the link below)

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