The government of South Korea announced Dec 8 that it has expanded its existing air defense zone to cover internationally recognized South Korean airspace. South Korea intends to cooperate with 'related countries' on extending this air defense zone.
China last month established a large Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) inside the ADIZ of Japan which has existed for several decades. However, a corner of China’s new ADIZ also jabs into recognized South Korean airspace.
China’s new ADIZ is many miles beyond anything justifiable except in the case of an imminent national security threat or an existing state of air combat operations; neither of which is the case with any of China's neighbors in or around the area.
China’s new ADIZ is clearly not aimed at intimidating Taiwan, since it actually projects to the southeast away from Taiwan and toward Japan’s Ryukyu Island chain. The Senkaku Islands of Japan are included inside the extreme southwest corner of the new ADIZ. The belief that China’s ADIZ is tied to their territorial claims over a collection of uninhabited ‘rocks’ in the ocean simply doesn’t add up.
China and even American mainstream news media are also spewing the narrative that there are oil and gas reserves under the ocean covered by the new Chinese ADIZ which has yet to have ever born fruit despite numerous attempts to discover these reserves. Even if there are such reserves, China has no legal or justifiable claim on them, nor does any other nation.
China in recent years has gone to quite an effort to establishing effective hegemony over other shoal waters and collections of islets near Vietnam, the Republic of the Philippines, Malaysia & Brunei; all uninhabited and far beyond China’s coastal territorial limit and recognized national airspace. China has conducted these efforts in tandem with diplomatic deals establishing a naval/military air presence in the Indian Ocean among lesser powers such as Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
A look at a map of the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean explains the goal: protecting commercial shipping lanes. Beijing seeks to establish a military air presence over shipping lanes vital to the delivery of oil from the Middle East which China currently consumes at an enormously large volume second only to the United States. Chinese strategy behind this series of moves is defensive.
Economic and military experts explain away China's increased oil consumption as a consequence of China’s rapidly growing economy. However, this does not quite add up in view of the reality that Chinese exports are largely dependent on an American consumer market where over 100 million Americans are permanently unemployed with consumer buying power at levels comparable to the Depression Era.
Chinese merchant shipping has taken a huge blow from this winnowing American market as evidenced by a large slowdown in Chinese merchant vessel construction this year, a Chinese industry once at incredible levels of production and profit.
The main questions then are; why the continued increase in imported oil consumption by China?: and why does Beijing feel the need to establish a Chinese military air presence from the Persian Gulf to Manchuria?
The first question is harder to answer. Beijing may be stockpiling an enormous oil reserve in case of war, or economic collapse. China has enough domestic oil production to fuel existing military and security forces and anything beyond basic civilian needs is not a factor as Chinese citizens have no choice but to obey the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party police state.
The answer to the second question however, could well shed some light on the first, since the purpose of establishing defensive zones of any kind is to protect military or vital economic and political assets.
If China were planning a surprise attack on Japan, Taiwan or planning on aiding North Korea in a renewed war against Seoul, they would not be so incompetent as to tip off their intentions by establishing so obvious an incursion directly into airspace that would be vital to both sides during a conflict in any of those regions.
Furthermore, despite incessant propaganda narrative to the contrary from state controlled Chinese news media and internet bloggers posing as 'free thinkers'; (with both echoed by Fox News influenced through the proxy of Rupert Murdoch’s estranged Chinese wife, Deng Wenge (aka Wendi Deng); China simply does not have the blue water naval power to project it’s enormous land forces across the sea against Japan, nor the military air power to maintain air superiority across large swaths of airspace beyond China without totally stripping away their homeland air defense.
China’s surface naval forces alone cannot effectively protect shipping lanes spanning from the Korean peninsula to Oman. Maritime patrol aircraft however, operating from various air bases along those routes can achieve that goal.
During the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War, it was not escort ships that ultimately defeated Grand Admiral Donitz’s U-boats but, Allied air power operating primarily from land bases in Canada, Iceland, the Azores and the British Isles.
Aside from China picking a fight with the United States and/or U.S. allies South Korea, Japan or Taiwan there is no reason for China to perceive the threat of unrestricted submarine warfare against its commercial shipping. And, it is highly doubtful that the United States could muster the domestic political will to employ such a tactic in any case.
India and Russia however, are another matter. Both nations are adversaries of China on the Asian land mass and both nations’ navies have effective submarine forces. India has numerous military purchasing agreements with Russia, the two nations have jointly designed and built surface warships; and India just took delivery of a large Soviet era aircraft carrier, rebuilt by Russia’s Sevmash Shipyards entirely to an all Indian Navy redesign.
The one constant of world history is that it often repeats itself. China is a nation severely overpopulated and one in which half the land area is not the most habitable or economically viable.
Added to these factors is that the Chinese people, the Communists nor even the Nationalists Chinese in Taiwan have ever relinquished the belief that Siberia and the Russian Far East are in fact, 'stolen Chinese lands'. Lands which today, are largely uninhabited hinterland controlled by a modern Russia with a decreasing population of less than 150 million people mainly concentrated west of the Ural Mountains.
China is a dictatorship ruled by one political party with no other parties allowed. No dissent is allowed to breach that totalitarian control. If China were to loosen that grip and allow large numbers of Chinese to immigrate abroad it would soon bring down that dictatorship just as it brought down the dictatorship of East Germany. China’s only other choice to maintain that control is to seek “Lebensraum”. What better land to take, than that uninhabited ‘stolen Chinese land' and return it to it's 'rightful owners' as Pres. Barack Obama is so fond of saying.
One only need look at recent Russian military deployments to the Far East & Central Asia; the Russian build up of reserves in the Arctic region outside the reach of Chinese tactical missiles; the enormous Russian military exercises on the Chinese border earlier this year; and Russian overtures to Japan, India and Vietnam to see that Pres. Putin already realizes there is a big problem developing on the border with China.