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South Korea expands its air defense zone in reaction to China

South Korea announced yesterday that it is extending its airspace for the first time in 62 years to include airspace over the East China Sea that is also claimed by China and Japan.

By JC Finley
South Korea expands its air defense zone in reaction to China
Chinese newspapers feature front page coverage of China's new air defense zone claim in Beijing on November 30, 2013. China sent fighter jets, as well as its new aircraft carrier, into its newly claimed air defense zone, as the United States, Japan and South Korea sounded notes of defiance by declaring they would continue to fly through the disputed airspace without notifying Beijing. South Korea announced on December 8 that it too was expanding its air defense zone into contested airspace over the East China Sea. (UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- South Korea announced yesterday that it is extending its air defense zone into an area that overlaps with airspace claimed by China and Japan.

South Korea joins Japan and China in a recent play for airspace over the East China Sea. With the latest expansion by Seoul, the three countries now overlap a claim on a submerged reef claimed by both South Korea and China, but controlled by South Korea.

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South Korea's Ministry of National Defense said that South Korea will hold talks with "related countries" to "prevent accidental military clashes" within the new zone, which goes into effect on December 15. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that any expansion by South Korea "should comply with international laws and conventions" and that his country is "ready to stay in communication" with South Korea.

The airspace over the East China Sea has been a contentious issue recently. Vice President Joseph Biden visited both Tokyo and Beijing last week to voice American concern and encourage dialogue between China and Japan about the airspace issue, after China recently announced it had extended its air defense zone into Japan-contested airspace. Both the U.S. and Japan criticized China's claim.

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[New York Times] [Washington Post] [UPI]

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