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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The danger of leading from behind in Asia -- By Harry J. Kazianis, The Washington Times

A passive U.S. response to Chinese aggression only encourages more

Illustration by Greg Groesch for The Washington TimesLast month as the world awaited news of tense negotiations between Iran and the so-called "P5+1" (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany) over Tehran's growing nuclear program, a rising giant with an already sizable nuclear arsenal made its own headlines. The news once again proved why Asia and not the Middle East is the world's most dangerous corner of the world and a place where America can ill afford a show of weakness or indecision.

With the People's Republic of China's unilateral creation of what has been called an Air Defense Identification Zone over a large section of the East China Sea that overlaps contested territory claimed by Japan, Beijing has sown the seeds of what could quickly become a full-blown military crisis with clear ramifications for the United States.

To be fair, an Air Defense Identification Zone, essentially an area that carves out an early-warning buffer zone supporting the detection of intrusions into a nation's sovereign airspace, is not aggressive on its own. Many nations, including the United States, Canada and Japan, have created such defensive areas. What is aggressive is declaring such a zone over the contested Senkaku Islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. Thanks to a deadly brew of budding nationalism on the Chinese mainland, the discovery of valuable national resources and a historic rivalry with Japan that stretches back over a century, China has set its sights on laying the groundwork for what Beijing officials have called "indisputable sovereignty" over the islands.

In fact, Beijing's recent move is part of a carefully crafted plan to control the seas and now the skies around the Senkakus. For the past year, Beijing has played a calculated game of chicken with Japan over the group of five uninhabited islands that have been under Japanese administration since the 1970s. When Tokyo formally purchased three of the islands from private Japanese owners last summer, Beijing used the incident to aggressively press its claims. China has dispatched nonnaval maritime vessels, surveillance planes, unmanned aerial vehicles and elements of its increasingly advanced air force to patrol the area around the islands. Tokyo has responded by deploying its own forces and reportedly threatened to shoot down any foreign unmanned aircraft within its airspace. The situation almost spiraled out of control at least once, when in January, a Chinese naval vessel locked its firing radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter. Chinese academics even went as far in May as to make an argument that Okinawa, where a sizable amount of U.S. forces are based, should also be contested.

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