Around Asia: South Korea expands its own overlapping air defense zone

In Other News - December 9th, 2013
Senkakus

South Korea pushed boundaries when it expanded its air defense zone to overlap with China’s much-contested ADIZ, the latest in a simmering battle for the skies.

Seoul on Sunday announced the new zone was extended by 66,480 sq km in waters off its south coast, now encompassing Ieodo, an outlying rock crop in tense waters also under Chinese and Japanese air defense zones.

But South Korea’s defence ministry said the move would not infringe on neighboring countries’ sovereignty. Kim Min-seok, a ministry spokesman, said Seoul had notified its neighbors and related nations in advance about its new air zone.

“We have explained our position to related countries and overall they are in agreement that this move complies with international regulations and is not an excessive measure,” defence ministry head of policy Jang Hyuk told a briefing.

“We believe this will not significantly impact our relationships with China and Japan as we try to work for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia,” he said.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed Seoul had consulted with Washington earlier, saying US officials “appreciate” South Korea’s “efforts to pursue this action in a responsible . . . fashion” by notifying its neighbors.

Tensions in the region have skyrocketed following China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, in which foreign planes are supposed to disclose flight plans with Beijing.

Both Tokyo and Seoul have protested against Beijing’s ADIZ, which neighboring countries see as an aggressive push to stake its claim over the contested Senkaku, or Diaoyu islands.

The US warned China against risking peace and stability in the region and stressed its loyalty to its Japanese ally in the advent of an attack, although it remains neutral in the sovereignty of the islands.

China insisted its ADIZ is in accordance with international law and Washington and others should respect and abide by it.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Al Jazeera English/Flickr