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4. China’s Newly Claimed Air Defense Zone Tests S. Korea’s Diplomacy


4. China’s Newly Claimed Air Defense Zone Tests S. Korea’s Diplomacy
South Korea’s diplomacy has been put to the test with hegemonic competition heating up in East Asia following China’s announcement of its new air defense zone.

On November 23, China unilaterally announced it was expanding its air defense zone in the East China Sea.

China’s new air defense boundary extends above a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea and overlaps airspace west of South Korea’s Jeju Island and above Ioedo Reef. The expanded zone has emerged as a new destabilizing factor.

China apparently unveiled the zone in light of its territorial dispute with Japan over the islands in the East China Sea and over its rivalry with the U.S. in the Western Pacific Ocean.

The need to expand South Korea’s Korea Air Defense Identification Zone was raised following China’s announcement, and the government unveiled its new zone on December 8. Korea’s expanded zone now covers the airspace above Ioedo Reef.

The U.S. and Japan positively responded to South Korea’s new zone while China expressed regret.

Observers say the situation has tested South Korea’s diplomacy as Seoul has yet to find a breakthrough in strained ties with Japan while the U.S. and China compete for hegemony in East Asia and Japan and China argue over disputed territory.

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