China expresses ‘regret’ over expanded KADIZ

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China expresses ‘regret’ over expanded KADIZ

China said it “regrets” the announcement on Sunday that Korea has expanded its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in response to China’s unilateral declaration on Nov. 23.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing yesterday that Beijing has requested that the Korean government handle the issue with caution and expressed regret at Korea’s expansion of its ADIZ, confirming that China’s foreign and defense ministries have conveyed their positions to Seoul.

China, while refusing to retract its newly mapped East China Sea ADIZ, has emphasized that the issue should be resolved through dialogue and communication.

But so far there has been little other subsequent backlash to the announcement. Korea followed procedure by notifying related countries of its plans beforehand in compliance with international law.

The United States gave an immediate response after the announcement, stating it “appreciates” the efforts Seoul took in order to inform its neighbors and Washington, unlike China. It added that the KADIZ is within the scope of international law, as it is also in line with Korea’s flight information region (FIR), a specific airspace set by the International Civil Aviation Organization in which flight information and alert services are provided.

Following suit, Japan also said yesterday that it had “no problem” with Korea’s expanded ADIZ.

“We heard the related material from the Korean government beforehand and think there is no immediate problem in relations with Japan,” said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

He added that the KADIZ does not breach Tokyo’s territories, airspace or territorial waters, nor does it impose any additional obligations to civilian aircraft, unlike China’s unilaterally proclaimed ADIZ, which overlaps with the Senkaku Islands - called Diaoyu by Beijing.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. in his Asia-tour last week emphasized that a strong alliance between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington was important in the United States’ pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region.

Korean and Japanese relations have been especially tense recently due to continued discord from historical and territorial issues. However, Japan’s response indicates a willingness to follow the vision set out by the United States.

“We arrived on the decision to announce the expansion of the KADIZ in order to best protect our national interests from other sovereign nations,” President Park Geun-hye said yesterday while presiding over a meeting of senior secretaries at the Blue House.

She said the decision was reached after an in-depth review by related branches of the government. “Right now the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is suddenly changing, and there are heightened tensions over the controversy surrounding ADIZs [in Northeast Asia] and international changes in North Korea.”

At such times, she emphasized, “foreign affairs and security issues must be resolved calmly and with restraint in order to build trust with neighboring countries and to put people at ease.”

On Sunday, Korea announced the expansion of the southern boundary of its ADIZ, which will incorporate waters nearly 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Ieodo - submerged rocks in the East China Sea, known internationally as Socotra Rock, that also fall within the ADIZs of Beijing and Tokyo.

The newly mapped KADIZ takes effect on Dec. 15. The KADIZ also includes airspace over Hong Island and Mara Island not previously included in the 1951 KADIZ drawn up by the United States.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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