by Michael D. Swaine
March 19, 2014
China’s establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone has incited strong criticisms and increased regional tensions. Both authoritative and non-authoritative sources argue consistently and often emphatically that the zone is intended to improve safety and stability and is not directed at any particular country or target. Yet the vague language used to describe the zone, as well as the extensive and often hostile rhetoric toward Japan, suggests that such assertions are incorrect and disingenuous at best. While China has every right to set up an ADIZ, its failure to reassure other nations or clearly define the enforcement and intended impact of the zone has undermined any purported stabilizing intentions and damaged China’s larger strategic interests.