Chinese jets breach Korea’s ADIZ

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Chinese jets breach Korea’s ADIZ

Two Chinese military aircraft briefly violated Korea’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, near the submerged rocks Ieodo in the East China Sea, amid heightened regional tensions, military officials in Seoul confirmed.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday said that the military aircraft breached the ADIZ the overlaps between Seoul and Beijing and that Korea sent warning signals over wireless communication before the aircraft left without further altercation.

“Our military detected an unknown track south of Ieodo and in the process of identifying it, discovered they were Chinese aircraft; we then confirmed there was no danger,” Jeon Ha-kyu, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a briefing at the Ministry of National Defense. “We issued numerous warning signals and took all the needed measures of surveillance and tactical action.”

Ieodo, the submerged rocks off the southwestern coast of Jeju Island, known internationally as Socotra Rock, also falls within the ADIZs of Beijing and Tokyo.

He added that the military had prepared fighters to scramble in the case the Chinese aircrafts intruded upon Korean air space.

But the military aircraft left shortly after, heading toward the East Sea and intruding on Japan’s ADIZ.

Chinese authorities did not properly notify Korean or Japanese authorities before crossing into their air defense identification zones Saturday, defying international protocol.

Japan’s Kyodo News reported Monday that the Chinese Shaanxi Y-9 surveillance aircraft and a Y-8 early warning plane came from the East China Sea and breached its ADIZ.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force responded by dispatching fighter jets to intercept the two Chinese aircraft.

In 2013, China unexpectedly expanded its ADIZ in the East China Sea to overlap with Korea’s and Japan’s at points where the countries have disputes over claims, such as Ieodo, underwater reefs southwest of Jeju Island that belong in waters that both Seoul and Beijing claim. The unilateral move by Beijing was protested internationally, and in response, Korea expanded the southern boundary of its ADIZ.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday that Japan’s Defense Ministry will analyze the intent of China’s military by the flights, which come amid tensions between the two countries over disputed territories.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported that the Chinese aircraft may have been gathering information on Japan’s Aegis destroyers deployed as North Korea prepares a long-range missile launch.

Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have tightened their joint defense posture against additional provocations from Pyongyang.

But the Chinese Defense Ministry later on Tuesday denied that its Air Force aircrafts violated Korea’s ADIZ saying the Korean reports were “not true.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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