Also see Andrew Erickson, mentioned previously as a go-to source. If you'd like to see an outright "sky is falling!" reaction to the events, check out Politico.
2) "Sovereign is as sovereign does." From a reader:
Your article about China's ADIZ didn't explicitly recognize a major component of the move. Namely, in international law a major way by which states acquire sovereignty over an area is by actually exercising sovereignty (i.e. administering) over it for a "reasonable" period of time and especially having other states acquiesce to its administration. As one famous court opinion put it:
"The modern international law of the acquisition (or attribution) of territory generally requires that there be: an intentional display of power and authority over the territory, by the exercise of jurisdiction and state functions, on a continuous and peaceful basis."
Even if it has little real practical effect for airliners, by having them identify themselves to China Beijing will be exercising sovereignty over the area and can claim that others are acquiescing to its claims of sovereignty. This is why the U.S. and Japan immediately announced they wouldn't comply with China's demands and the U.S. is openly defying the order already.
Of course Japan has anADIZ over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands but at the very least by establishing its own ADIZ (and patrolling the waters below) China is chipping away at Japan's int'l legal claim of sovereignty. This is also why China has made a point of increasing its patrols in the South China Sea and is acquiring the necessary capabilities to constantly patrol the skies over the South China Sea.
3) A Chinese Caribbean. A reader who has worked in politics:
Re: "Why are the Chinese doing this?"
Obviously as you point out it's opaque and we can only speculate to Zhongnanhai's [rough equivalent of the White House] motivations but I think a helpful way to think about is their view/ambition for the East China Sea is that it is/should be a Chinese Caribbean.
Think about the US role there in the late 19th century - the Venezuela thing/ Roosevelt Corollary/ getting the British out). Which is the tack I would take if I were sitting in Beijing.
4) "A generally more emboldened China." A reader with a lot of experience in the defense world:
I would draw your attention to the Defense Ministry spokesman’s response to the question regarding if China intended to set up ADIZ’s in other areas (e.g., the South China Seas): “China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.”
I believe that the central question that this new provocation raises is what accounts for it? Of course, longstanding tension over the Daioyu/Senkaku issue has been rekindled and that offers a proximate explanation; the arrival of Abe into office in Japan, another.
But what I fear we may be seeing is a generally more emboldened China. There is a lengthening bread crumb trail of recent PRC activity that leads me to this observation (not yet a firm conclusion).
I’m not referencing the (still) ongoing detentions and boardings that occur with regularity over the Spratleys, the Paracels, and Scarborough Shoals, but to chest-thumping behavior such as the recent Chinese news releases covering the capability of the PLAN’s SSBNs to lay waste to much of the western United States with 20 nuclear weapons. Yes, it did come to us via the Global Times, and yes, I’m well aware that even Beijing is rapidly losing its ability to control much of what comes out of China’s increasingly pluralistic press. That said, Beijing most certainly has proven itself capable of fully controlling what is being uttered in public about its nuclear weapons capabilities.
To be clear, the concern is not on the substance – or even veracity in this latter case of the story – the Xia class SSBNs with their JL-1 SLBMs remain the Chinese maritime equivalent of the Edsel, while the JIN-class (094) SSBNs (with the JL-2 SLBMs) are not yet on operational patrol. So, again, why the chest thumping?
Well, here’s to hoping that we aren’t witnessing the emergence of a new hawkish China.
Yes, I agree with that hope. To me, the evidence in recent years has been equivocal, even random -- a lurch forward here, a retreat there. A few days in, the ADIZ expansion appears to have been either a coldly calculated expansionary step, or a wildly miscalculated gamble. Neither is a great option from the rest of the world's perspective, but the blunder option is less worrisome.