China-Japan East China Sea tensions to escalate after China declares an air defense zone over the sea

Expect tensions between China and Japan (as well as tensions between China and the US ) after China declared an air defense zone over a large chunk of the East China Sea, including the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are administered by Japan. 

The US has responded, the Japanese have lodged a protest with the Chinese, and apparently the Chinese have already dispatched patrols. Some have predicted an Asian war in 2013 because of this ongoing issue.

This is coming as the US tries to tie a bow in the Iran nuclear saga. The US’s Asia pivot means turning away from the Mid-East as the prime-time event of US foreign policy and spending more time on Asia. That’d because in 2013, events in Asia pose a bigger threat to US national security. 

Attached, a map of the overlap between courtesy M. Taylor Fravel Embedded image permalink

Here is the map China released.


Former CIA, NSA director compares China’s cyberespionage on US to German submarine warfare during WWI, says its worse than Soviets during Cold War

General Michael Hayden, who has headed the NSA, uses some pretty alarming language in describing China’s cyber-espionage.

In the Australian Financial Review:

I believe the Chinese today are engaging in unrestricted espionage against the West that is comparable to the unrestricted submarine warfare waged by Imperial Germany in 1916. The intensity of Chinese espionage is certainly greater than that what we saw between the US and the Soviets during the Cold War.

The problem is China’s view is that industrial espionage by the state against relatively vulnerable private enterprise is a commonly accepted state practice. This is just unacceptable.

Industrial espionage by the Chinese has probably now become the core issue in the Sino-American relationship. It is not an irritant. It is not a peripheral issue. Believe me, I work closely with America’s congress and government, and this is now the dominant issue between the two countries, and runs the risk of undermining the entire relationship.

It’s worth considering the final line by Hayden. The problem with the issue is getting private sector companies to talk about the extent of the economic loss.

Another lingering issue is the lack of non-government contractors who are focusing on the challenges. Given the parasite-host relationship between government contractors and the US taxpayer, it would add to the credibility of the arguments if parties that didn’t stand to gain from a cyber war were speaking out about the situation.

Clearly the CSIS is a strong voice in the matter.

So far, the US has tried to use shame as a tool to get the Chinese to stop. We’ll see what difference it makes.

But comparing the effect of Chinese economic hacking to the events the submarine war that led to the sinking of the Lusitania is compelling.

However, at that time Germany was in a declared war with Britain and both sides were actively trying to degrade each others’ war machine by denying each other the imports they needed.

Between the US and China, there is no declared war. By day, in fact, it’s all about being partners for trade, when clearly this isn’t shaping up to be a win-win situation.

The US championed China’s entry into the WTO and gave it most favored nation status. But now, US economic information is plundered and fed into China’s economy.

Quite a contrast. 

Chinese foreign policy? What foreign policy?

Academic Zheng Wang makes a point we share on this blog. China doesn’t have a foreign policy in the conventional sense. In that way, there are plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings and tensions with neighbors.

A couple key observations from the Seton Hall international relations professor:

Words like “aggressive,” “assertive” and “arrogant” have been used to describe China’s foreign policy, particularly with respect to its protracted war of words with Japan over a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

However… When we conduct a careful examination of Chinese policies and actions, we see that Chinese foreign policy is actually ambivalent, even weak. Beijing does not have a clear and well-developed policy on many issues, from the disputed islands to North Korea to climate change. Strong rhetoric is often used to compensate for weak or incoherent policies.

…China has not been at war with another country since a brief armed conflict with Vietnam in 1979, and has been very cautious in its dealings with its neighbors who occupy islands claimed by China in the South China Sea. This explains why Chinese nationalists have at times criticized the government’s foreign policy for being as soft and accommodating.

Zheng hopes for an elevated for China’s diplomats in averting drift toward nationalism, which can be used to bolster internal cohesiveness and the legitimacy of the government, but may imperil China’s place in the global economy.

Moreover, that dynamic, of playing off domestic insecurity risks creating a cycle that leads to war.

If there were more Malcolm Frasers in Australia in the 1930s, he could have saved the country from the whole WWII bother.

But seriously, the irony is that Australia followed the US into two flawed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that Australia could quite seriously need the security support of the US, you have its ex-prime ministers urging the country to spurn it.

Don’t forget Paul Keating’s assertion that the US couldn’t win a land war in Asia, which conveniently excludes the one major uncontained land and sea war in the Pacific that the US participated in during the 20th century.

The truth about Australia and China was summed up by yet another prime minister, when John Howard counselled against Australians becoming mesmerised by China’s rise. Part of the issue of the Senkaku-Diaoyu tensions and South China Sea tensions arise from the fact that China, superpower to be or not, doesn’t enjoy the chain of command that a country like the US would. As stated here there is “dysfunctionality of decision-making in China” even in issues as crucial as border disputes. Imagine how China would function in an actual war.

Where was this guy in the 1930s?