Eye in the Sky

China recently announced a new air defense identification zone (ADIZ), an area of airspace which it now declares to be under its exclusive right to regulate and patrol. The new ADIZ, which encompasses the controversial Diaoyu islands that under currently under ownership dispute, is an aerial analog of China’s maritime assertive in the South China Sea and the next step in China’s expansion of what it considers to be its zone of control in East Asia.

The identification of a new zone of strategic control is potentially disruptive of the already fragile balance of power in the East Asian region. China had demanded that all non-commercial flights passing through the zone identify themselves to China air authority. Japan, the other major power in the region, has already instructed its airlines to ignore the new protocol, and South Korea announced the creation of its own air defense zone, which overlaps the one that China now claims.

All of this seems to be indicative of a wider foreign policy objective that the Chinese government has been describing as a process of territorial reacquisition. From the Xinjiang and Tibet areas of western China to the Diaoyu islands and South China Sea (and even to Taiwan), Beijing claims that these sort of territorial expansion does not constitute a new Chinese manifest destiny, but is rather a reclamation of the territories stolen from it during its “Century of Humiliation”.

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