South Korea Air Defense Zone Rattles China

East China SeaChina expressed “regret” Monday over South Korea’s declaration of an air defense zone overlapping Beijing’s in the latest ratcheting up of tensions over territorial disputes involving Japan, China and South Korea that the U.S. has been seeking to tamp down.

China urged Seoul to proceed “safely and cautiously” in dealing with the overlap from “South Korea’s expansion of its air defense identification zone,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

South Korea caught Beijing and Tokyo off guard Sunday with the announcement that Seoul’s existing air defense zone was being expanded about 150 miles to the south to include a submerged reef called Ieodo in South Korea and Suyan Rock in China.

Maj. Gen. Chang Hyok, a senior South Korean Defense Ministry official, said that in declaring the zone “our top priority is to prevent accidental military clashes in the area.”

The expansion meant that the air zones declared by South Korea, Japan and China over the East China Sea now all overlap. The Japanese and Chinese zones both include space over disputed islets called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.

Unlike the air defense zone announced by China two weeks ago, the South Korean zone will not affect civilian flights.

China angered its neighbors in declaring its own zone on Nov. 23 by ordering all military and commercial flights entering the zone to file flight plans and identify themselves or face possible “emergency measures.”

The U.S. immediately signaled that it would not recognize the Chinese zone by flying two B-52 bombers based in Guam through the Chinese zone without giving notification.

The air zone disputes dominated Vice President Joe Biden’s talks last week in Japan, China and South Korea.

“China’s recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defense identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region,” Biden told a meeting of U.S. business executives in Beijing.

“The United States has a profound stake in what happens here because we need, and we are, and we will remain a Pacific power diplomatically, economically and militarily,” Biden said.

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Richard Sisk
Richard Sisk is a reporter for He can be reached at
  • PolicyWonk

    Well China really screwed up when they announced their “air defense zone”. If they have a diplomatic strategy of any kind they’ve been unable to articulate it with any coherence. This suggests that there is no coordinated effort on the part of the Chinese government, which increases the danger something could go very wrong.

    China has a historical chip on its shoulder as a result of being exploited in the past, and the conservatives think that with China’s military build up they can start settling scores.

    I doubt they’re being realistic, unless they want to take a chance on starting a regional war that would involve Japan and S. Korea, which would require in turn the USA to live up to its treaty obligations.

    It seems that its time for China to smarten up – because the conservative faction needs to get a grip on reality before they start something they cannot control.

  • Dfens

    Remember how they promised us that by giving China “most favored nation” trade status this would make us best friends? Look at how well that is working out for us. We now have an enemy of our own making and at the same time we have emasculated out nation’s industrial might. Add to that the fact that we are in the process of emasculating our nations military might through procurement practices that are ignorant beyond belief, and we have a true recipe for disaster looming. Would we seriously go to war with China over South Korea’s claim to some uninhabited islands? Of course we wouldn’t. China will take Taiwan without ever firing a shot and we will stand by and watch. It is entirely possible they might take South Korea and Japan, but at least those two countries will fight back, for a little while. We will stand on the sidelines and wring our hands because we don’t have the stones to get involved in a real war, nor do we have the weapons.

  • Musson

    It is a mistake to think of China as a monolithic power. Instead, think of them as 8 very powerful crime families that cooperate to stay in control of the country.

    • Pjkace70

      Well Said !! ! ! And so True.

    • Chuck D

      very accurate assesment

    • Mitch S.

      I’m not that up China’s internal power structure, if you know any good articles etc you recommend please post a link(s).

      • Paulson

        Musson doesn’t have any. He made it up.

        He is just speculating that what is happening in the West is also happening in the East.

        The West is under the collective influence or control of several powerful, super rich crime families, namely, the House of Rothschild, the House of Morgan, the House of Rockefeller, the House of Warburg, the House Oppenheimer …

    • guest

      Which eight crime families? I counted SIX only. US, UK, JAPAN, FRANCE, CANADA, SOUTH KOREA.

    • sonnyandjacksdad

      Do you know the families names?

      • Really?

        He most probably doesn’t even know the names of politically influential families in the US.

    • S Korean Won

      Can you name the 8 families?

  • PW …..

    Not certain the civilian side of the playpen, after years of buying off the military with more and more toys, hasn’t lost the bubble and the uniforms are a tad off of the reservation.

  • I think we all need an ADIZ over our homes or perhaps we should declare one for a fourth overlap in that neck of the woods or hell …. how about a worldwide US ADIZ that ranges 500 NM around every US warship.

  • Lance

    Got to love this time to tick off the Chi COms. About time we had a weaker respounce to China’s power grab.

  • Taylor

    Our Asian allies need to get their own nukes, in my opinion. If North Korea has them, our friends need to be able to defend themselves without worrying about what political group is in power here.

  • Dobdobdob

    we’ll see….
    China is still lacking in a lot of areas to start throwing punches around. They’ll probably have a decent edge when they are able to field their new semi-stealth fighter and a couple domestic carriers too.

  • Big-Dean

    iepid mspiepp li liseo manipe edkpeiwp, foa aei mappe hahahahaha ;-P

  • Dekkard

    What accounts do you refer to, China’s long-suffering is self-inflicted. You chose your path: controlled by emperors, warlords, foreign agents, commissars, and now industrial robber barons. Your water is toxic and your air brings cancer. All of this you have done to yourself. Now you involve yourself in Africa, a mistake that even America avoided. The dark continent has swallowed empires more nimble and cunning, than you. You could destroy Japan, grab Taiwan, and neuter America, but that will not alleviate your pain. Your humiliation will continue; you do not think of yourself as a free people and until you do you will always be a vassal state no matter how powerful you become.

  • STemplar

    This whole ordeal is very hamfisted and this alleged “long view” is hogwash. There’s no win here for them. Bullying everyone in the region only forces other nations to move closer and closer together. Any real military cooperation between Korea and Japan is an utter failure on China’s part.

    If they wanted to demonstrate true finesse and brain power they would have shown up in force to Japan’s calamity after the earthquake and tsunami/reactor incident with aid. They would have shown up to the Philippines after this recent typhoon.

    Thinking they are going to get themselves anywhere by bullying nations in their region is duncery. Thinking they would actually be able to individually bully nations bilaterally in these overlapping territorial disputes is linear thinking at best. It’s mostly a clear demonstration about just how inbred and unchallenged the mentality and strategy is inside the Chinese ruling elite.

    This is pure nationalistic stupidity on their part and domestic power cementing for Xi. I’m always a little shocked at the fanboys that flock here to trumpet China as anything someone should aspire to. They’re turning their own nation into a big toxic waste dump. They’ve created a demographic tsunami for themselves that hits in about 20 to 30 years. They’ve institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing. They’re actively engaging in brinkmanship that could lead to a conflict that would be devastating for the entire world economy in the best case outcome. I really fail to see the fascination or glamour.

  • Zspoiler

    I wonder if they like having a taste of their own medicine. They are a large country .but do you really want to p*** off your neighbors. People hate bullys..

  • I think it’s just as likely that we’re seeing a Munich in the making. China rattles the sabres, including a number of provocative military poses and invites the allies to negotiate to preserve peace. Concessions will be made because this is likely the most pliable US administration the Chinese will see for some time, Japan and Korea are in no position to seriously resist and US manufacturing is heavily dependent on Chinese parts. It’s not an accident that this happened just after Obama caved on Syria and Iran IMO.

  • BlackOwl18E

    China is winning on the economic front, but their overall political military strategists don’t seem to think things through that well. In fact, they kinda suck.

    Good on South Korea though. They are on top of the ball and playing the chess game well so far.

  • China miscalculated on this one… Pretty stupid for them to even think no one would respond… China could never win a 3 or 4 front war…

    • Paulson

      You don’t know what China was thinking and you don’t know what Korea, Japan and US are really thinking.

  • oblatt2

    Most Asians see American negotiating skills as child like. Ive seen businessmen compare negotiating with Americans as similar to beating a child to death with its own candy.

    The Chinese strategy is not to directly confront the US – that is the simplistic thinking you would expect from a child. But to show that the US is irrelevant in Asia.

    The fact that the the secretary of state immediately rushed over to calm things down will register far more strongly with the Japanese and Koreans then US public announcements of undying friendship. They can see that in practical terms the US isnt the superpower anymore.

    The US wants everyone to play happy families because it wants to remain head of the household. But times are changing even some our staunchest allies are now firmly in the Chinese camp now.

  • Benjamin

    The only nation that is firmly in the Chinese camp is Russia and that is there own folly. More likely to be a major war between them then between the China and US. The US may fight some small battles with China over some islands but Russia and China will fight for everything east of Moscow.

  • hibeam

    “Looks like it’s time for an apology. I will fetch the presidential knee pads”

  • SJE

    China brought this on itself.

    I has been backing a nuclear armed, aggressive and crazy North Korea since the 1950s, that lobs shells and missiles at South Korea and Japan, kidnaps their citizens etc. Its like the Chinese think SK, Japan and US wouldnt notice (“Hey, I’m just sitting on the stage! Its the puppet on my lap that is saying all the bad things”).

    The Chinese have been aggressive in expanding their territorial claims to any island, rock or reef in the neighborhood, despite other countries’ claims. They don’t want to give aid to the Phillipines because that country asserts rights to islands that are near it.

    China aggressively asserts rights to the airspace near itself, even forcing down planes that are arguably in international airspace.

    So, now the Chinese are hurt that South Korea is asserts an ADIZ. Gimme a break.

    • S Korean Won

      Either you have been getting your news from rogue news outlets, or you are making that up because of some subconscious hostility developed over time by being exposed to consistently false news reporting.

  • what goes around comes around……China reminds of what the Japanese were doing in the 30s……..

  • oblatt2

    “Had a meeting with the Chinese American ambassadors today. They offered 50 billion dollars of infrastructure development and a doubling of our local economy”

    “What did the Americans offer”

    “To protect me from the Chinese offer”


    Americas economic and military decline means that we are not the realistic alternative to China we are claiming to be.

  • ServingGreenTea

    I’m not sure if it’s entirely accurate to say that the new Korean ADIZ caught PRC and JPN off guard…ROK gov’t had announced publicly that they are working on a newly expanded ADIZ after the PRC announcement. Media reports indicated that ROK consulted with Biden before the announcement.

  • jessmo

    Really? we cant project power? even with 9 CARRIERS AND 9 GATOR BOATS?
    Do you think, you may be trying to hard? When the Chinese can blocade both coasts call me ok.

    • orly?


  • “safely and cautiously” China and their words… I have to laugh… They think because they have lives to waste, they can bully whomever… I’d call their bluff and say, bring it… What are they going to do, fight multiple countries that lay claim? They’d loose face real quick…

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