China Claims Buffer Airspace from Korea, Japan

      November 25, 2013 12:16

      China has declared a so-called Air Defense Identification Zone that partly overlaps with Korea's and Japan's, creating potential for future disputes.

      The zone, where passing aircraft need to identify themselves in case they have some kind of hostile intent, covers both the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands that are disputed with Japan and the submerged shelf of Ieo Island and areas southwest of Jeju Island that fall under Korea's air defense zone.

      Ieo Island has also already been included in Japan's air defense zone, but Korea, which is trying to claim the shelf, has left it out.

      Countries select areas outside their sovereign airspace as a kind of buffer zone where foreign aircraft must notify the host government. Korean planes flying toward Ieo Island must alert Japanese authorities and may now have to inform Chinese authorities as well.

      Seoul is minded to sit on the matter until strategic negotiations with Beijing scheduled for the end of this month.

      A Defense Ministry official said Sunday that the zone China announced Saturday overlaps with a part of the Korean zone west of Jeju Island that is 20 km wide and stretches for 115 km.

      The ministry official expressed "regret" over the overlap, but added that Korea's jurisdiction over waters surrounding Ieo Island would remain unaffected.

      China's new zone includes the Diauyu islands as well as most of the airspace over the East China Sea.

      Japan issued a prompt protest against the Chinese move, while the U.S. warned that it will "only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident."

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