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The Chinese Back Down, Face Fury At Home


Did Beijing bite off more than it could chew with its Air Defense Identification Zone? Just hours after China announced its new ADIZ that covered territory in the East China Sea claimed by Japan, the US issued a strong verbal rebuke and yesterday sent two B-52 bombers to fly through the area. The PLA did not even try to contact the planes as it at minimum threatened to do if foreign aircraft did not identify themselves in the ADIZ. And now Chinese bloggers are angrily accusing the military of bowing to US pressure and being toothless all around.

“China just announced its air defense identification zone and the B-52s from US just drove straight into it, ignoring China’s statement,” Bei Cun, a novelist and screenplay writer, wrote on Sina Weibo, as the WSJ reports. “This is pretty embarrassing for China. But guess what China will do? My guess would be … ‘to solemnly protest and try to negotiate.’”

The outrage and embarrassment came pouring out: “When two people confront each other on a narrow road, the braver one wins,” wrote another blogger. “The People’s Liberation Army can’t seem to strongly react. How do we manage this? This really needs wisdom and courage,” wrote another. He used the Chinese word for courage that means “blood,” the WSJ reports.

The authorities in Beijing need to be careful tapping into nationalist sentiment across the country. If they put themselves in a position where it’s difficult to back down, the only options are to make an embarrassing volte-face or risk a dangerous confrontation with foreign military forces. As China rises, its citizens, proud of the country’s power, won’t want to see Beijing embarrassed by foreigners, and will urge Beijing to put up a strong front in disputes with Japan, the US, and others.  The ADIZ in the East China Sea might have been one step too far, too soon. The Chinese military is strong and growing stronger, but it cannot yet go toe-to-toe with the US in Asian waters.

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  • Anthony

    “…but it cannot yet go toe-to-toe with the US in Asian waters.” Rather jingoistic WRM or is it foreign policy truth telling – dismissing strategic considerations.

    • Corlyss

      Hey, Anthony, “jingoism” is a callow characterization for someone of your sophistication. Remember who the Good Guys are.

      • Anthony

        Corlyss, not intending to be callow; just thought WRM was bellowing what is current given (perhaps, I could have been more precise – subtle gloating). Thanks.

  • Corlyss

    “US issued a strong verbal rebuke”
    Well, at least this administration still has its powerful rhetorical guns since it doesn’t seem to have any other weapons against our enemies. It remains to be seen how long the Chinese will fall for our bluff, because everyone knows its a bluff.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The fact is without the “feedback of competition” forcing continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, China will never have the bleeding edge technological military power of the western nations. Like the Soviet Union before them, just keeping up with the technological improvements of the US is proving impossible even with massive spying, not to mention the breaking new trails creativity necessary to surpass the American’s Qualitative advantage.

    Despite the alarm being generated in Asia by China’s belligerence, I’m not that worried about a general region wide war, because I know most of this saber rattling is for internal consumption to generate political support for the regime, and China is peaking economically and will now go into a swift decline. I am however worried that the incompetent Obama Administration is going to waste this Golden Opportunity to build a Military and “Economic” Alliance with the Alarmed Asians, that would benefit all parties for decades, before China’s crash is obvious to all and the Asian Alarm and with it their motivation to compromise and unify dissipates.

  • Brian

    Looks like the Chinese reverse-engineered Obama’s red line . . .

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