South Korea, Japan
defy China zone
Reuters and AP, TOKYO, SEOUL and MANILA
Japanese and South Korean military aircraft flew through disputed airspace over
the East China Sea without informing China, officials said yesterday,
challenging a new Chinese air zone that has increased regional tensions and
sparked concerns of an unintended clash.
The move came after Tokyo¡¦s close ally Washington defied China¡¦s demand that
airplanes flying through its unilaterally announced zone identify themselves to
Chinese authorities, flying two unarmed B-52s over the islands on Tuesday
without informing Beijing.
Tensions have ratcheted up since Beijing¡¦s announcement on Saturday of the air
defense identification zone (ADIZ) that includes the skies over islands at the
heart of a feud between Japan and China, and its demand that planes flying in
the area notify Chinese authorities.
Japan and the US have sharply criticized the move, which some experts said was
aimed not only at chipping away at Tokyo¡¦s control of the islands, known as the
Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu (³¨³½) in China, but also at challenging US dominance
in the region. Taiwan also claims the islands, which it calls the Diaoyutais
The US does not take a position on the sovereignty of the islands, but
recognizes Tokyo¡¦s administrative control and has assured Japan that a bilateral
security agreement covers them.
The developments are expected to dominate US Vice President Joe Biden¡¦s visit to
Japan, China and South Korea next week.
China yesterday also rejected South Korea¡¦s demand for the repeal of the zone,
but appeared to soften its demand that commercial aircraft tell its military
authorities of any plans to transit the area. Japan¡¦s two biggest airlines have
already begun defying that order.
¡§The East China Sea air defense identification zone is not aimed at normal
international flights. We hope that relevant countries¡¦ airlines can proactively
cooperate, so there is more order and safety for flights,¡¨ Chinese Ministry of
Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang (¯³è) told reporters.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said naval ships and patrol
planes have been operating in the East China Sea and would continue to do so.
¡§They are carrying out surveillance activity as before in the East China Sea,
including the zone,¡¨ Suga told a news conference, adding there has been no
particular response from China. ¡§We are not going to change this [activity] out
of consideration to China.¡¨
A South Korean official also said a navy reconnaissance plane had flown over a
submerged rock in the area claimed by both Beijing and Seoul, and that the
flights would continue.
The rock, called Ieodo in South Korea and Suyan Rock in China, is controlled by
Asked about the South Korean flight, Qin only said that Beijing was aware of it.
South Korea¡¦s reaction to Beijing¡¦s weekend declaration had been somewhat muted,
reflecting its efforts to forge closer ties with China and a chill in relations
However, South Korean Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo yesterday told a
senior Chinese military official that the move to impose the new rules created
military tension in the region and called on Beijing to rectify the zone
¡§The Chinese reaction was that they will not be accepting the [South] Korean
side¡¦s demand,¡¨ South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told
reporters after talks between Baek and Wang Guanzhong (¤ý«a¤¤), deputy chief of
general staff of the Chinese People¡¦s Liberation Army.
The Philippines also rejected China¡¦s newly declared air defense zone in the
East China Sea as infringing on the freedom to fly in international airspace and
compromising the safety of civil aviation.
Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said China¡¦s ADIZ threatens
the national security of affected states and ¡§transforms the entire air zone¡¨
into China¡¦s ¡§domestic airspace.¡¨