Another airspace breach by China

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Another airspace breach by China

Chinese military jets on Sunday crossed and briefly violated Korea’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Chinese surveillance and early warning aircraft came near Ieodo - known internationally as Socotra Rock - in the East China Sea near Jeju Island and flew out after Korea sent warning signals. They then ventured into Japan’s ADIZ and veered away when Japanese fighter jets approached.

An ADIZ is the airspace a country sets to locate and control aircraft performance in the interest of national security, particularly to identify any hostile entry. Although it is not defined and regulated by any international treaty, a state can send out fighter jets if foreign aircraft enter designated airspace without prior notification. It is customary for foreign airplanes to get permission from local authorities to prevent any miscommunication.

Beijing - which in 2013 unilaterally expanded its ADIZ into the East China Sea to overlap with the airspace of Korea and Japan - denies any breach. But whatever its intention may be, the move bodes badly for our bilateral relationship.

Beijing has been uncooperative in taking concerted punitive action in response to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The hotline between the defense ministers of Korea and China has been useless, and Beijing is suspected to have taken a bold move in protesting discussions between Seoul and Washington concerning deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antiballistic missile system in South Korea following repeated threats from North Korea.

The air breach comes at a highly sensitive time. North Korea has warned it could test a long-range missile after it claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb in January.

China, which has been calling for dialogue to solve the problems on the Korean Peninsula to ensure peace and stability, is suggesting it could get involved militarily if it feels its national interests are at stake.

Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized during talks with President Park Geun-hye in July 2014 the strong partnership between Beijing and Seoul, which he said contributed to regional peace. As partners, we should respect each other, not invade the other’s territory.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 3, Page 30

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