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Air defense zones of China, S. Korea overlap: source

2013/11/24 16:50

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- China's air defense zone, announced a day earlier, partly overlaps with South Korean territory, a military source said Sunday, prompting concerns over a possible dispute between the neighboring countries.

On Saturday, China's defense ministry announced that it has set up an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, obligating all aircraft entering the area to report to Chinese authorities and follow their instructions.

Air Defense Identification Zones are set up to distinguish civilian aircraft from military aircraft in the interest of national security, but no country can claim jurisdiction over them under international law.

"The air defense zone announced by the Chinese government yesterday partly overlaps with our military's KADIZ (Korean Air Defense Identification Zone) in the area west of Jeju Island," the source said, referring to a resort island off South Korea's southern coast.

"The area is 20 km wide and 115 km long, or about 1.3 times the size of Jeju," the source added.

The Chinese zone also reportedly includes the South Korean-controlled Ieodo, a submerged rock that lies within the two countries' overlapping exclusive economic zones.

Ieodo, which lies 149 km southwest of Korea's southernmost island of Marado and closer to South Korea than any other country, is also included in Japan's air defense zone but excluded from KADIZ, a defense ministry official said.

Any aircraft entering an air defense zone without authorization can be subject to interception by fighter jets.

However, a military official played down fears of a possible dispute between South Korea and China over the overlapping air defense zones, saying the two countries have a hotline aimed at preventing accidental clashes.

hague@yna.co.kr

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