More good news from Asia: China dropped its threats to civilian aircraft which fly through the contentious Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) it set up in November 2013. Asahi Shimbun reports:
Chinese aviation authorities have removed a warning that possible “defensive emergency measures” could be taken against carriers failing to comply with regulations set for China’s airspace zone in the East China Sea.The move by the Civil Aviation Administration reflects fears that hostilities could be triggered with other countries if China strictly applied rules for the air defense identification zone it established last year, according to diplomatic sources.
The controversy over the ADIZ stems from the fact that it covers the airspace over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which both Japan and China claim rightful ownership of but which Japan controls. Since China established the new boundaries in November 2013, U.S. and Japanese carriers have ignored it, and China did not in fact scramble the jets for an intercept. But even if withdrawing the threat made against civilian aircraft in China’s ADIZ is largely a symbolic gesture, it is an important one. It’s a friendly—or, at least, less unfriendly—diplomatic gesture to Japan.Lately, China and Japan have begun to work out their issues. Beijing has walked back some of its most inflammatory rhetoric and largely stopped provoking dangerous maritime clashes in the East China Sea. That doesn’t mean that China is rethinking its territorial ambitions or its vision of itself as a regional hegemon and world power, but it does mean that Beijing is moving back towards something like Deng Xiaoping’s “Peaceful Rise” strategy, a program that is likely to work better for China’s interests, and for world order.