Ignore noise around South China Sea ADIZ

By Wu Shicun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-14 20:58:01

Since China established its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, speculation around it has never ended. Some foreign media outlets have been trying to dig out further information and they believe China would establish another ADIZ in the South China Sea very soon.

Despite such groundless accusations, no hasty actions to establish an ADIZ are required given the complexity of territorial disputes surrounding the South China Sea. We have to question the intentions of the foreign media in exaggerating groundless speculations and stirring up tension in the South China Sea.

China is not the first country to establish an ADIZ, and such a move is not exclusive to any single country. The establishment of the ADIZ in the East China Sea is well expected as China rises. It is a result of the provocation by Japan whose right-wing forces have become more and more aggressive and whose foreign policy has taken a more hard-line stance.

Moreover, Japan's right-wing politicians asserted the country would shoot down any Chinese drones flying over the disputed areas above the East China Sea. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also uttered harsh remarks and showed a hard-line attitude toward China. Under such circumstances, China would be too courteous toward Japan if it does not answer Japan's blows with blows.

In a certain sense, the rivalry surrounding China's East China Sea ADIZ is part of the collision and adjustment of strategic interests between China and Japan, as well as between China and the US. China will never create waves when maintaining its own maritime rights, but it will not fear any provocations in this regard. Its measures against Japan this time have reinforced such an image.

But it's worth noting that exaggeration of China's East China Sea ADIZ and the talk of plans to extend it to the South China Sea has been deliberately fostered.

Despite some common problems China faces in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, there are significant differences. As for the South China Sea disputes, besides China, there are another five countries involved. The number of disputed islands and the size of disputed sea areas are one of the largest in the world. The complexity of these issues has far outreached that regarding the East China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities haven't defined the nine-dashed line in a legal sense and haven't published the territorial sea baseline for the Nansha Islands. It requires comprehensive legal and technological preparations to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea, which is much more complicated than doing so in the East China Sea. Even if all obstacles are eliminated, China will not necessarily take this course in the South China Sea.

Rather than establishing an ADIZ in the South China Sea, China needs to conduct strategic planning that boosts greater significance to the overall situation. From building a silk road on the South China Sea to upgrading the China-ASEAN free trade zone, China needs to plan carefully before acting and weigh long-term strategic interests and current conflicts.

The recent speculation that China will establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea is intended to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries and stir up worries of a "China threat." It aims to trap China in a public opinion whirlpool as well as a strategically passive position. This will only serve the interests of the US and Japan. The wisest response of China is to ignore the speculation.

As with the establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ, China has the right to do the same in the South China Sea. As for how and when China will practice such a right, China's decision-makers have long-term strategic considerations and will give the highest priority to safeguarding national security and maximizing development interests.

If the US and Japan go further in threatening China's national security, China may be forced to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea. If that day comes, the US and Japan don't have to make a fuss about it.

The author is president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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