Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Chinese Norm-Adaptation of the Air Defense Identification Zone

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

The apex of the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute was arguably the unilateral creation of a Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. At the time, analysts represented it as an illegitimate and hostile move towards the status quo, undermining Japan’s control of the airspace above the islands. It is not the first time China adjusted international norms to suit its strategy regardless of potentially legitimacy or legality of such adjustments. Surprisingly, China ceased to enforce the ADIZ in 2016.

What is the rationale and the process behind the revision of existing norms by China and what is the likelihood of such norms being implemented also in the South-China sea? After having analyzed the peculiar Chinese norm-creation/adaptation process, this paper hypothesizes that the ADIZ was deemed as unsuccessful because of the almost general criticisms on China that arguably undermined its credibility as built in years of soft power strategy; hence, given the precedent assessment, a South China Sea ADIZ would be potentially seen as counterproductive.

This paper looks at academic papers, statements, printed interviews of Chinese officials in the government and military to understand the norm-making process in China, especially the way they interpreted and adopted the ADIZ norms to their interests; and ultimately hypothesize why they cease to enforce it. Thus, we reveal the rationale behind the implementation, its success and hypothesize the likelihood of this norm being extended to the South China Sea disputes.

Federico Tombari

Kobe University, Japan


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3 - Chinese Norm-Adaptation of the Air Defense Identification Zone

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