China claims airspace administered by South Korea and Japan

Posted on : 2013-11-25 15:46 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Countries respond with regret and concern that China’s claim could jeopardize stability in East Asia
The Ieodo Ocean Research Station
The Ieodo Ocean Research Station

By Seong Yeon-cheol, Beijing correspondent

China announced on Nov. 23 it had set up an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that encompasses not only Ieo Island, which is administered by South Korea, but also the Diaoyu Islands (called the Senkaku Islands in Japan). The Diaoyu Islands are the subject of an ongoing territorial dispute with Japan.

The South Korean government expressed its regret about the Chinese government’s decision 24 hours after the announcement. Japan and the US on the other hand responded with immediate criticism, referring to the move as one that threatens the stability of East Asia.

The Chinese Defense Ministry announced that it had established an air defense identification zone to preserve its national sovereignty and the safety of its territory and to maintain order in its air space according to current international law. The ADIZ took effect at 10 am on Nov. 23, the ministry said.

Aircraft that are passing through this airspace must provide China with prior notification of their nationality and their flight plan, the ministry explained, and they must remain in periodic radio contact with the Chinese Defense Ministry. The ministry also said that it would take measures to monitor and control any aircraft that disregarded these instructions.

The ADIZ that China announced covers the air space from south of the Korean peninsula to north of Taiwan, including Ieo Island and the Diaoyu Islands, along with the oil field area in the East China Sea. This area overlaps a portion of Korea’s ADIZ and a large segment of Japan’s ADIZ.

China also indicated its intention to expand its ADIZ into South Korea’s West (Yellow) Sea and the South China Sea, saying that it would set up an ADIZ in other areas as well at an appropriate time.

An air defense identification zone is an area outside countries’ territorial airspace that they define in an attempt to protect their airspace. While the concept is not recognized under international law, countries often claim the right to take military measures within these zones.

China’s move met a backlash from South Korea, Japan, and the US, the countries affected by the decision. “China’s arbitrary declaration of its air defense identification zone is regrettable,” said Kim Min-seok, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense. “We will deliberate with China to ensure that this does not harm our national interests.”

The ADIZ announced by China encompasses parts of Ieo Island and Jeju Island and overlaps with a section of the Korean ADIZ that is 20km wide and 115km long. Consequently, China’s ADIZ includes not only the air space above Ieo Island but also the air space to the north of the island.

While the airspace over Ieo Island is not currently included in South Korea’s ADIZ, South Korea exercises effective administrative control over the air and waters around Ieo Island and has built a maritime science base there.

Japan expressed strong opposition to the ADIZ announced by China, as it includes the airspace over the Senkaku Islands.

Japanese TV station NHK quoted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as saying that he would protect Japanese land, air, and water and directed each government agency to respond thoroughly.

“We are very concerned about this escalatory development which increases regional tensions and affects US 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,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council.


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