Top news: The United States defied China's newly announced "air defense identification zone" by sending two unarmed B-52 bombers into the area, a flight that Chinese officials said Wednesday they had monitored but declined to take action against.
The two planes, which U.S. officials say were on a routine training mission, declined to file their flight paths with the Chinese aviation authorities as the rules of the zone stipulate. The Chinese air defense zone overlaps with that of its regional rival Japan and includes a series of islands at the center of a territorial dispute between the two countries. The creation of the zone is but the latest attempt by China to assert itself as a regional power, but Japanese and U.S. officials so far appear to be unimpressed. In addition to the B-52s, Japanese commercial airliners announced that they will not abide by the new rules.
In explaining why the Chinese government had declined to take action against the American planes, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that any Chinese response would depend on the size of the threat. The large size of the zone -- roughly equivalent to the state of California -- and China's inability or unwillingness to counter the overflight of a pair of American bombers is also raising questions about China's ability to police the new zone. "It is just not yet clear how they are going to enforce it," Christian Le Miere, a military analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, told Reuters. "It may be more a rhetorical position to serve a political end."
As FP's Isaac Stone Fish writes today, the increasingly aggressive Chinese postures comes as the country is overhauling its national security apparatus and increasingly modeling it off of the United States.
Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative cadres struck a deal with Germany's Social Democrats to form a new government, a development that ends months of haggling and will put a new government in place by Christmas. Among the most important provisions of the deal, Germany will usher in a minimum wage of 8.50 euros an hour by 2015.
- Egyptian police launched a crackdown against the country's human rights activists, arresting -- and in many cases groping and sexually assaulting -- prominent campaigners.
- Israeli forces killed three Palestinian militants in the West Bank who Israel said were planning to carry out an attack.
- At least 20 people were killed and 35 wounded in a series of shootings and bombings in Iraq.
- A fourth day of protests in Thailand saw anti-government campaigners take their message outside of Bangkok and into several provincial cities.
- Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tapped Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif as the next commander of Pakistan's armed forces.
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott moved to mend relations with Indonesia, which suspended military cooperation with Australia after allegations of spying.
- Following the collapse of a Riga supermarket that left at least 54 dead, the prime minister of Latvia resigned, bringing down his government.
- Pope Francis laid out his vision for the Catholic Church, one in which he denounced the "dictatorship" of an economic system that results in widespread poverty.
- Russian police say they arrested 15 Islamist militants in raids in Moscow and seized bombs, guns, and grenades.
- At least 30 Haitian migrants died after their boat capsized near the Bahamas.
- Honduran election officials claimed the candidate of the ruling conservative party has an unbeatable lead in the presidential vote count.
- With NSA Director Keith Alexander embroiled in defending the agency against the fallout from the Snowden leaks, Fran Fleisch, the agency's executive director, has moved into an increasingly powerful role.
- With violence spreading in the Central African Republican, residents of Bangui expressed hope for the speedy arrival of additional French troops.
- Outrage is spreading in South Africa over a national exam question that asks students to direct a scene involving the rape of a baby.
- As it struggles with militias and continued instability, Libya deported 500 African immigrants to Niger.