January 10, 2017 11:26
Around 10 Chinese military jets intruded into Korea's air defense identification zone near the submerged rocks of Ieo on Monday for about four hours.
Ieo, located around 150 km southwest of Jeju Island, is the subject of a dispute as the exclusive economic zones of the two sides overlap there.
"Some 10 Chinese bombers and other military aircraft flew into our air defense identification zone several times between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.," a military official here said. "The [Korean] Air Force scrambled around 10 fighter jets in response."
This is not the first time that Chinese military aircraft have flown in the zone, but the latest intrusion involved the largest number of aircraft.
Korea apparently warned the Chinese planes and protested to the Chinese side through a hotline.
Japan's Defense Ministry also confirmed that six Chinese bombers and one surveillance aircraft flew over the Straits of Korea and into the East Sea. Two Chinese fighter planes flew over the Straits of Korea in January of last year and three more did so in August.
The air defense identification zone does not constitute territorial airspace but is established in order to identify air traffic. It is common protocol for aircraft entering another country's air defense identification zone to request permission.
"The intrusion appears to send warning messages to Korea over its deployment of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery as well as to Japan over the territorial dispute over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands," a government official said.
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