Hard to see how any of this is going to help maintain peace in East Asia. Then again, it wasn’t meant to (HT to Anonymous Joe):
Japan warned Sunday of the danger of “unpredictable events” and South Korea voiced regret following China’s unilateral declaration of an air defence zone over areas claimed by Tokyo and Seoul.
“We find it regretful that China’s air defence zone partly overlaps with our military’s KADIZ (Korean Air Defense Identification Zone) in the area west of Jeju Island,” said a ministry statement, according to Yonhap news agency.
The Chinese zone also includes a South Korean-controlled submerged rock that lies within the two countries’ overlapping economic zones, according to a South Korean defence ministry official quoted by the news agency.
The submerged rock in question is Ieodo, a.k.a. Socotra Rock, where Chinese surveillance flights have sharply increased this year. On the bright side, China reassures us that there’s no territorial dispute with Korea over the rock, and as far as I know, neither Korea nor China actually claim it as territory—-according to the UN Law of the Sea, submerged rocks cannot be claimed as territory. On the not-so-bright side, Ieodo features prominently in the regarding the overlap in Korea’s and China’s respective EEZs, although why the rock itself is of any importance in that, I’m not quite sure—Koh Choong-suk, president of the Society of Ieodo Research, tries to explain it here, but I’m still not sure why the rock matters. If you get it, though, please enlighten me in the comments.
Interestingly enough, Japan’s air defense zone also reportedly violates Korea’s in the water’s south of Jejudo.
The JoongAng Ilbo has a nice little map showing the competing Korean, Chinese and Japanese air defense zones in the
South Korea Sea East China Sea. One interest thing to note is that Korea’s does NOT include Ieodo, although the Korean Defense Ministry is apparently considering extending the zone.
The United States, needless to say, is not happy about any of this, especially since President Obama is on record suggesting that the United States would defend Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the event of an attack. For that matter, so is the US Congress. Possibly to reaffirm this point, the USAF flew a B-52 through China’s new air defense zone and over the Senkaku Islands. Which was pretty ballsy on Obama’s part, IMHO. China, meanwhile, is sending a carrier group—or should I say the carrier group, as it’s only got one—to the South China Sea. Lovely.
I confess, stuff like this gets me a wee bit nervous, mostly because I don’t know to what extent the Chinese leadership believes its own bullshit. You’ve got Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Americans involved in this thing now, and you pray no one does anything stupid.