The Chinese Back Down, Face Fury At Home
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.