Two to Tango: The US and China in the Asia-Pacific

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  • July 2014
    Strategic Essay

    In the last decade, the dynamics of inter-state relations in the Asia Pacific have changed rapidly, largely due to the rise of China. Competition rather than cooperation has become the order of the day. In the East and South China Seas, freedom of navigation, competitive claims over maritime boundaries and air space security are experiencing an evolution of new brinkmanship between the US, an established super power, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), an emerging super power, unfolding new challenges for the other potential regional players including India.

    On November 23, 2013, the Ministry of National Defence of the PRC announced the establishment of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. The ADIZ includes the airspace within the area enclosed by the outer limit of China’s territorial sea and six coordinates, namely 33º11ʹN and 121º47ʹE, 33º11ʹN and 125º00ʹE, 31º00ʹN and 128º20ʹE, 25º38ʹN and 125º00ʹE, 24º45ʹN and 123º00ʹE, and 26º44ʹN and 120º58ʹE. This includes territory over which Japan and Taiwan also claim sovereignty, making the establishment of the ADIZ a contentious issue. The statement on the establishment of the ADIZ mandates that aircraft flying in the zone must provide flight plan identification, radio identification, transponder identification and logo identification. It also warned that ‘defensive emergency measures would be adopted by China’s armed forces to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions’.