With Air Defense Zone, China is Waging Lawfare
In essence, the East China Sea ADIZ is part of China’s “lawfare” strategy toward its maritime disputes. “Lawfare,” as used in the context of international warfare, is often attributed to retired Air Force General Charles Dunlap, who defined it in a famous 2001 essay as “the use of law as a weapon of war.” Interestingly, according to the spectacular Lawfare blog, Dunlap was preempted by two PLA officers who wrote in a 1999 book, Unrestricted Warfare, that lawfare “is a nation’s use of legalized international institutions to achieve strategic ends.”
In what M. Taylor Fravel called creating “new facts on the water,” China’s approach to the South and East China Seas has been to try to establish its sovereignty over contested areas through the use of a combination of military power and international law. Specifically, as is well known, it has sought to increase its maritime patrols over the entire South China Sea through the creation of Sansha City garrison, and has basically seized control over the Scarborough Shoal and, increasingly, the Second Thomas Shoal. It has also sought to challenge Japan’s administrative control over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands by increasing its maritime patrols and air flights over them.
There is a clear unambiguous purpose to all this — namely, China is seeking to bolster its claims to sovereignty over these areas in terms of international law.