Sparks Of Chinese Realism

When China sparks row by the extension of its Air Defence Zone over the disputed islands in East China Sea, it adds yet another chapter in the Realist School of International Politics. The territorial disputes existing between China and other countries in the region may take a violent turn. China has declared the air space above the region as is ‘expanded air defence zone’. The flights entering the air space are to file their flight plans with China, are to maintain radio contact and should promptly answer to the queries.

In Chinese perspective of events, its economy is growing and eventually its stake in regional security grows. It has an unfriendly neighborhood which is jealous of its trajectory of growth. Even though USA is flooded by Chinese goods USA and its allies are the largest threat for China in the region. US blindly sides with its allies and do not ever accord to Chinese stance. Hence the extended air defence zone becomes a natural extension of their security apprehensions. According to Hans Morgenthau “international politics is nothing but chaos. It is a jungle where might is right is the law”.

But there is a danger in pure realism. If every stake holder of the region starts executing their fears and apprehensions it could lead to tension of large scale which would affect every actor’s interest in the region. The region being a very important trade route, any small tension in the area would adversely affect trade. In an era of globalization this would have spiraling effect in the global economy. Trade is the engine of growth and any adventures which affect the ‘order’ in the region should be avoided.

For USA, East China Sea is strategically important and is “a part of their national interest” (Hillary Clinton- 2010). As part of its Pivot to Asia policy USA plans to shift 60% of its naval force into the Asia Pacific Region by 2020. South Korea has already indicated its plans to expand, own airspace which is in violation to the proposed air space by China. The issue escalates as the dispute between China and Japan regarding the possession of Senkaku/Diayoyu islands in East China Sea stands unresolved. Japan holds the possession of these uninhabited islands which is claimed by both China and Taiwan. Japan has already issued guidelines to its commercial flights not to follow the newly declared ‘rules’. USA has already sent B-52 bombers in the disputed air space clearly defying the China’s orders.

It is in the interest of the global economy that the issue needs to be resolved soon. 21st century supports Interdependence School of International Politics rather than Realist School. No economy can have an isolated stand in a totally integrated global economy. If china wants to maintain its growth saga it should withdraw the out of the game plans. It is already predicted that a trilateral grouping may arise between Japan China and USA in the region in near future. Hence tensionless situation in the region would only benefit China than anyone else.

Freedom of navigation is essential for uninterrupted trade. It is wise for China to unite with the global forces in both letter and spirit. If they unite, according to Joe Biden, the vice president of USA “the possibilities are limitless”. If that is the case, interdependence is wise for China than independence.


Alexin George IPoS

The views expressed in the article are not that of Govt. but strictly author’s personal views.