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Obama shock? US buckles on ADIZ stance, recalling Nixon

Call it an Obama shock, if you will, a la the Nixon shock the Japanese call the visit to China in 1972 by President Richard Nixon to sign the Sino-American Shanghai communique with Zhou Enlai that paved the way for normalization of relations between Washington and Beijing. The Cold Warrior Nixon's about-face demarche shocked Tokyo into frenziedly cutting off diplomatic relations with Taiwan to recognize Mao Zedong's People's Republic of China.

Japan felt betrayed by President Nixon who had appeared a persistently staunch supporter of President Chiang Kai-shek. Japan felt deceived, if not betrayed, by President Obama in dealing with the People's Republic in the row over Beijing's demarcation of a new maritime Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, which covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, a group of eight uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, also known as the Diaoyutais, which the Republic of China in Taiwan also claims.

After the PRC's ADIZ was declared on Nov. 23, American B-52 bombers flew through it to achieve “the desired effect of reassuring allies and showing Beijing that its aggression would be resisted,” according to a Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook (Asia) editorial published five days later.

The editorial called for “joint air and sea patrols with Japanese forces” to “make more concrete (the U.S.-Japan mutual security) treaty obligation to assist Japan to defend the (Senkaku/Diaoyu) islands,” and proclaimed “If Beijing challenges those patrols, it would be taking on both countries — a security tripwire similar to the stationing of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.”

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