S. Korea strongly protests China air zone

S. Korea strongly protests China air zone

SEOUL - South Korea urged China during military talks in Seoul on Thursday to revise its newly declared air defence identification zone in the East China Sea that has raised regional tensions.

Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-Joo expressed Seoul's "strong regret" at China's unilateral announcement of the zone over an area that includes a South Korean-controlled rock and Tokyo-administered islands.

"We expressed concern that China's latest move was heightening military tension in the region," said defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok.

Japan, South Korea and the United States have rejected China's demand that all aircraft traversing the new zone file flight plans and identification details.

Two US B-52 bombers flew through the area on Monday without complying, and a South Korean military plane followed suit the next day.

Japanese military and paramilitary planes have also flown through the zone unopposed, according to an official and a report in Tokyo Thursday.

The annual talks in Seoul were led, on the Chinese side, by Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army.

Baek stressed that Seoul could not recognise the zone and demanded that China revise its parameters, particularly a section that overlaps with South Korea's own Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

"China's reaction was that it will not accept the demand," Kim said.

The South Korean side also warned that it would have to consider expanding its own ADIZ to protect its national interests, Kim said.

China has threatened "defensive emergency measures" against any aircraft that flouts its regulations.

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