South Korea announced on Sunday that it has extended its air patrol zone for the first time in 62 years to partially overlap China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which was declared last month, claiming air space over the East China Sea currently claimed by Beijing and Tokyo. Lovely.
Announcing the expansion of its own zone to include two territorial islands to the south and a submerged rock also claimed by China, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the move would not infringe on neighboring countries’ sovereignty.
South Korea objected to China’s November 23 move as unacceptable because its new zone includes a maritime rock named Ieodo, which Seoul controls, with a research station platform built atop it. China also claims the submerged rock.
“We believe this will not significantly impact our relationships with China and with Japan as we try to work for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia,” Maj. Gen. Chang Hyok, a senior policy coordinator at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said in a statement.
“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,” he said, adding that he wanted to work with involved countries to avoid military conflict.
General Chang said that his government has already explained the extended zone to China and Japan, and also discussed it with US Vice President Joe Biden during his visit to South Korea on Friday, the New York Times reports.
“Our top priority is to prevent accidental military clashes in the area,” General Chang said at a news briefing.