Beijing’s declaration last week of a special air defence identification zone above disputed islands in the East China Sea and the surrounding waters claimed by Japan and China is a clear escalation of an already dangerous situation. It might be tempting for commentators at this stage to digress into describing the torturous history of the disputed Chinese or Japanese sovereignty over these uninhabited rocks, to provide context for how the two great nations of Asia have virtually drawn daggers over barren island territories in a distant corner of the Pacific Ocean. Yet, the deeply unwise and provocative new Chinese decree of unspecified military measures in the event of unauthorised entry into this airspace has served to dramatically broaden the regional context of this bilateral stand-off. Continue reading »
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