The Complex

China's Beef with Japan is Also a Warning to the U.S.

China just upped the ante over a territorial dispute with Japan. But in doing so, it seems to be sending a message to the United States as it pivots east: Stay out of our way.

China's announcement Saturday that it had created an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) coupled with a demand that any non-commercial air traffic would have to submit flight plans prior to entering the area, represented by all accounts a significant provocation. China is attempting to assert its authority over a group of uninhabited islands south of Japan and just east of the Chinese mainland in the East China Sea. But the creation of the new zone is probably less about the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus by China, as it is China's desire to flex its muscles in its own backyard as the U.S. rebalances its own strategy east.

China's decision will complicate relations as the United States seeks to build a more trusting relationship with the Asian giant and develop diplomatic efforts on a number of fronts. And it will pose a challenge to Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to make a stop in China on a trip through Asia next month. White House National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden wouldn't say if the development would affect Biden's trip.

"We are very concerned about this escalatory development which increases regional tensions and affects U.S. interests and those of our allies. We have conveyed our strong concerns to China and are coordinating closely with allies and partners in the region," she said in a statement.

The area China has created isn't so much a no-fly zone as it is a yellow flag area. If the United States or another country's military flies inside the area without seeking permission first, China could respond with military force. Many countries, including the United States, have the same kind of zone around their borders. But China's move essentially puts any non-commercial flight through that area on equal footing with a flight over its own airspace.

That makes it virtually impossible for the United States or anyone else operating in the region to ignore China's claim over the area. But it's not clear how far China will really go. The United States has already said it will continue its own military operations in the zone without asking permission. And at least one knowledgeable expert believes the United States will soon assert its authority by doing just that, and test China's resolve.

"I would expect within the very near future, that [the United States] will fly through that ADIZ just to demonstrate that we reserve the right to do so," said Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

But that doesn't mean there will be another war in the Pacific. China could choose to ignore any U.S. aircraft in the region, or it might respond by scrambling fighter jets to escort them through the zone.

All of this could pose an enormous risk, either through escalation or by accident. In April 2001, there was a mid-air collision between a U.S. Navy EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet, forcing the American plane to make an emergency landing on Hainan Island about 100 miles from China. The 24-member crew was detained and questioned for about 10 days before being released.

"This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement Saturday, reaffirming the American commitment to the defense of Japan. "We remain steadfast in our commitments to our allies and partners," according to the statement.

Rep. Randy Forbes, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been active on "Asia rebalance" issues, told Foreign Policy in a statement that he was happy to see the State and Defense Departments respond forcefully to the Chinese act, affirming the U.S. commitment to defending Japan. But it's not sufficient, he said.

"It is increasingly clear to me that politely conveying to China our continued frustration with their willingness to use military coercion and forms of legal warfare to bully their neighbors is just not enough," Forbes said. "It is time we explore imposing new forms of diplomatic and strategic costs on Beijing for this behavior, including an increase in our operations and exercises in the East and South China Seas."

While China will be faced with either enforcing the zone it just established or backing off, Japan will also need to decide how to respond, said Michael Auslin, a scholar specializing in Asian regional security at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute. "A wrong decision could lead to bloodshed," he said.

Auslin said it is worth examining why China made this move now. Is it because they don't believe the United States will back up Japan in an air clash?

"Both Japan and the U.S. need to come up with very clear [rules of engagement] for a variety of contingencies" based on this, Auslin said.

But not all analysts see it as an immediate cause for panic. China's moves so far have not directly challenged the Japanese, said Carl Baker, another analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The strong response from both Secretary of State John Kerry and Hagel despite that reflects growing concern Japan's faith in its alliance with the United States, Baker said.

Statements by Hagel and Kerry both reference Japan's claim that China's decision destabilizes the area. It is probably necessary to to reassure Japan that the U.S. supports Japan's right to administrative control of the Senkakus, but China launching an air defense zone alone does not directly challenge Japan's claim, Baker said.

"By essentially ignoring the nuance of the nature of an ADIZ and dismissing China's claims that it was establishing the ADIZ to protect its sovereign territory," Baker said, "the United States has moved a step away from its claim that it does not take a stand on the territorial claims regarding the Diaoyus and Senkakus."

Getty Images

The Complex

Navy 'Family' Man Latest Casualty of Vast Prostitution and Bribery Scandal

When Navy Capt. David Haas received national media attention for competing in Ironman competitions in 2009, he deflected it in aw-shucks fashion. "I race for my family," Haas said at the time. "I want them to know that they can dream, work hard, and make their dreams come true. I want my kids to look up to their dad. It is important to me that they think positively of their father."

On Thursday, Haas, 45, became the latest Navy officer implicated in the broad-reaching Glenn Defense Marine scandal, in which prostitutes, cash bribes and other perks were allegedly traded for sensitive military information. Haas was suspended as the deputy commander of Coastal Riverine Group One in San Diego, and temporarily reassigned to the staff of the Expeditionary Training Group, Navy officials announced.

Haas, pictured above, has not been charged with any crime, and Navy officials declined to specify what allegations he faces. In a statement, however, the service said Haas was suspended "based upon allegations in connection with an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation into Glenn Defense Marine," the Singapore-based contractor accused of furnishing the bribes in exchange for secrets.

The scandal already has reached the highest ranks of the Navy. On Nov. 8, the service announced it had suspended access to classified information for two senior intelligence officers, effectively relieving them from duty. Like Haas, Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless -- the service's director of naval intelligence and director of intelligence operations, respectively -- have not been charged with any crimes, but were suspended due to links to the investigation. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman, said the allegations against the senior officers "involve inappropriate conduct prior to their current assignments and flag officer rank.

Five men now face charges, including the CEO of Glenn Defense, Leonard Glenn Francis. An examination of more than 100 pages in criminal complaints filed by U.S. authorities in the cases outlines a conspiracy in which he used bribery as a matter of course to get ahead in the business world. The colorful character has a number of nicknames, according to court documents, including "Fat Leonard," "the Godfather" and "Lion King." He allegedly arranged for prostitutes to meet with Navy officials in several cities across the Pacific. In exchange, they provided information that Glenn Defense used to its advantage while "husbanding" ships, providing food, water, waste removal, and other tasks, prosecutors say.

Also facing charges are Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Nisiewicz and Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and John Bertrand Beliveau, a supervisory agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Another Glenn Defense official -- Alex Wisidagama, of Singapore -- has been charged in connection with the scheme for allegedly pulling some of the strings to keep the scheme going.

The Navy also relieved of command Capt. Daniel Dusek, the captain of the amphibious ship Bonhomme Richard, in connection with the investigation. He has not been charged with any crimes, but officials said that commanders lost confidence in him.

The officers implicated in the scandal nearly all share a common thread: service on the Blue Ridge, the command ship for the Navy's 7th Fleet, or service at Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka in Japan. The facility provides repairs and maintenance to a variety of U.S. and allied ships and equipment.

Haas, the latest officer implicated, has an impressive service record that included service in 2011 with Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan. From June 2003 to November 2009, he served on the Blue Ridge, Navy officials said Thursday. He is best known for competing in the Ironman World Championship, a grueling event that includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run without any breaks in between.

Sanchez, accused of accepting prostitutes and at least $100,000 in bribes, served as the executive officer for the Navy's Fleet Logistics Center in Yokosuka from May 2012 until April 2013, according to court papers. Previously, he was the director of operations for the Navy's logistics center in Singapore from July 2010 to May 2012. From April 2008 to April 2010, he was the deputy logistics officer for the 7th Fleet, working primarily from Yokosuka.

Misiewicz, accused of accepting prostitutes, cash, concert tickets and other perks, was the commanding officer of the destroyer Mustin, home-ported in Yokosuka, from about June 2010 to January 2011, prosecutors say. From January 2011 to April 2012, he was the deputy operations officer aboard the Blue Ridge.

Dusek, the relieved commander of the Bonhomme Richard, served as the 7th Fleet deputy operations officer aboard the Blue Ridge from January 2009 through February 2011, according to his official biography. The Navy says that in that role, he was responsible for all aspect of fleet operations for 7th Fleet.

Branch, the three-star admiral, did not serve full-time at Yokosuka in any capacity, but was previously the executive assistant to the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to his official biography.  He would have traveled the region extensively in that position.

Loveless, the other flag officer implicated, also was aboard the Blue Ridge while serving as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence for 7th Fleet, according to his official biography.

As an NCIS agent, Beliveau did not serve on the Blue Ridge. But court documents say he served as an agent assigned to the 7th Fleet in Yokosuka from 2005 through 2008. From 2008 to April 2012, he was stationed in Singapore for NCIS, working with Navy officials and local authorities to safeguard security for ships. It is in this context that Beliveau had regular contact with Francis and other Glenn Defense officials, authorities allege.

The Navy began investigating the case in 2010 after discovering irregularities in Glenn Defense's business practices, officials say. That is one year after Glenn Defense allegedly arrange for prostitutes to meet with Sanchez and other Navy officers, court documents say.

It isn't clear how many more officers could be charged, but an unidentified U.S. citizen and former Navy officer is accused of working on Glenn Defense's behalf to recruit some of the officers currently charged in the case. The unnamed recruiter is identified as "EA" in court documents, and purportedly left the service in 2007.

The criminal complaint for Misiewicz includes an alleged exchange in which the commander forwards sensitive information about ship schedules to Glenn Defense. "EA" then allegedly wrote "him!! :)", using an emoticon in the process. Francis's alleged response appears cocky.

"You bet the Godfather," he wrote, according to court documents.

EA's response: "All hail!!!"

MC3 3rd Class Torrey Lee/ Navy