The conflict over the islands in the East China Sea continues to evolve. South Korea responded to China. Seoul announced the expansion of the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ). The South Korean Ministry of Defense included the southern islands of Iodo, Marado and Hondo. The Korean air defense zone includes an underwater rock, which China claims. The Iodo rock is located inside the Chinese air defense zone proclaimed at the end of November (Casus belli. China shows who is the boss in the East China Sea).
On December 9, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that South Korea "decided to protect national interests as much as possible, in consultation with the relevant agencies." Thus, the South responded to the Celestial Empire, which at the end of November announced the creation of an identification air defense zone over the East China Sea, with the imposition of the Chinese zone on the South Korean air defense zone and the inclusion of the Iodo rock. Beijing then agreed to hold consultations with Seoul on this matter. However, the Chinese categorically refused to give in to the South Koreans. Koreans were set up peacefully, but received nothing.
Seoul decided it was time to firmly defend its interests. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said the southern border of the new South Korean air defense zone does not intersect with the air borders of neighboring countries in accordance with international law. Seoul noted that neighboring countries are aware of this decision, treated it with understanding and do not consider this step extraordinary. The new air defense zone has been expanded so that it coincides with the so-called. South Korea’s flight information area as defined by the International Civil Organization aviation. The new regime will begin to operate from December 15, 2013. Civil and military aircraft of other states that cross the space designated by the South Korean authorities will be required to inform Seoul of their flight plans.
The courage of South Korea added the position of the United States. Taking advantage of the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden to Seoul, the South Korean authorities officially informed the high-ranking guest about the imminent expansion of the air defense recognition zone. It is clear that this was not a surprise for Washington. Various informational “leaks” on this account circulated even before Biden arrived in South Korea. Apparently, despite official statements about the need for caution in this matter, since such a move by the South Korean government aggravates the already turbulent situation in the East China Sea, in general, the actions of Seoul are in line with Washington’s long-term strategy to confront Beijing. And for this it is necessary to push the South in the direction of the US-Japan alliance. The statement of Seoul in the air defense zone and the active buildup of military power is such a step.
In addition, Seoul clearly demonstrates its anti-Chinese position. Simultaneously with the news of the expansion of its air defense zone, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom began a two-day naval exercise near the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. The maneuvers involved the American missile cruiser, the South Korean destroyer project of the type "King Sejong the Great" and the British destroyer Daring.
9 December Seoul announced the start of a patrol of the new air defense identification zone. The South Korean military reported that new areas of the air defense identification zone will now be patrolled on a regular basis. In addition, it is planned to intensify the collection of intelligence information in this area. Special attention will be paid to the area where the Iodo underwater rock is located. The representative of the South Korean Defense Ministry said that if earlier naval aviation patrol aircraft appeared here, as a rule, with a frequency of 2-3 once a week, they will now appear over Iodo every day. Also, more often there will appear and the patrol ships of the Navy of South Korea. New patrol routes with the capture of the Iodo area have already been prepared. Patrolling Iodo and the South Coast Guard.
The South Korean Defense Ministry also warned that fighters would also be used to support the enhanced air defense identification zone regime. F-15K will be lifted into the air to accompany those aircraft that refuse to comply with the zone mode. Given that the air defense identification zone does not mean South Korea’s sovereignty over a particular space, then there will be no active operations by the South Korean air force planes. However, even such actions can lead to a conflict situation, since the territory of Iodo is also included in the identification zones of the air defense of Japan and China. In addition, the South Korean Air Force cannot effectively control the space above Iodo due to the remoteness of the rock from the nearest Air Force bases and the limited range of the South Korean fighters. So, KF-16 can be above this area for only a few minutes, and F-15 - for about 20 minutes. To solve this problem, the South Korean command can transfer fighters further south - from the Daegu base to the city of Gwangju. However, this will not solve the problem radically. Therefore, Seoul plans to buy tanker aircraft from the USA. "Flying tankers" should significantly increase the range of fighters of the South Korean Air Force. According to the South Korean military, the appearance of tanker aircraft will increase by about the time the time that combat aircraft will be in the air.
South Korea officially informed the United States about its December 6 decision. On this day, a meeting was held between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and US Vice President Joe Biden. Biden made no statements about this. However, earlier in Tokyo, he said that the United States did not recognize the identification zone introduced by Beijing in the East China Sea air defense system. In his speech, the American Vice President called for Seoul and Tokyo, two US allies, to cooperate in the name of security and stability in the region. Park Geun-hye also said that Seoul is waiting for reciprocal actions from Tokyo to improve bilateral relations. So far, the right-wing government of Shinzo Abe could not find a common language with South Korea. South is irritated by Tokyo’s claims on the Dokdo Islands (Liancourt) in the western Sea of Japan. After the end of the Second World War, the islands are ruled by Koreans. The conflict between Seoul and Tokyo over these islands grieves Washington. However, the principle “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” may work here. South Korea and Japan can join forces in confrontation with China.
Biden in Seoul tried not to annoy China. But still, Seoul won Washington’s support in expanding the air defense zone. “We are betting on an alliance with South Korea ... We stand on the same positions with the Korean government,” the US Vice-President determined the results of the meeting. After the official statement of Seoul regarding the introduction of the expanded air defense zone, the US authorities recognized it as legitimate. The representative of the US State Department Jen Psaki said that the South Korean air defense zone was introduced "in accordance with international practice and with respect for the law of overflight and other legal ways to use international airspace." The actions of Seoul will help avoid confusion and threats to civilian aircraft, said psaki.
The Japanese authorities calmly responded to the decision of South Korea to expand its identification air defense zone in the East China Sea. This was announced at a press conference in Tokyo, Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan Yoshihide Suga. According to him, the actions of South Korea do not limit the movement of civil aviation. Japanese Defense Minister Itunori Onodera also said at a press conference that Tokyo sees no problem in solving Seoul. In addition, he said that at a meeting with the head of the Japanese government, Shinzo Abe, he was instructed to take care of the bilateral relations of the two powers and create a perfect system of information exchange between Japan and South Korea. The head of the Japanese Defense Ministry said that there already exists a “hot line” of communication between the base of Japan’s self-defense forces in Fukuoka and the South Korean base in the city of Daegu.
Assessing the consequences of the statement made by Seoul about the introduction of a new air defense identification zone, experts believe that this will complicate the situation in the region. So, the head of the international committee of the State Duma Alexei Pushkov считаетthat in the "triangle of the PRC - Japan - South Korea" began a competition in the establishment of air defense zones. Danger: the United States and its allies entered the war of nerves with the PRC. "
Thus, China, by its decision to expand the air defense zone over the East China Sea, provoked Seoul’s response. The queue for Tokyo. The situation, as noted by the New York Times, is similar to the one that was during the Cold War between the United States and the USSR. Only the main region of confrontation is already the Asia-Pacific region, and others are opponents. China is opposed by the United States and its Asian allies.
China is rapidly increasing its nuclear-missile forces, the Air Force and Navy, has stepped up its foreign policy. In Japan, where the transformation of China into an economic and military superpower awakens nationalism, the Celestial Empire is already considered the main potential adversary. Conservative Japanese media have been sounding the alarm for more than a year. The main message: “Japan slept a long time - it's time to wake up.” The territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands has already outnumbered the conflict with Russia over the Kuril Islands. Japan is increasing its military capabilities in the south. The Japanese plan to launch a new military base near the islands claimed by China by 2016. Japanese Defense Minister Itunori Onodera, while in the Philippines, called on the world community to resist attempts by the People’s Republic of China to impose its will on other states. The topic of Chinese expansion in the Asia-Pacific region was discussed during a meeting of the head of the Japanese defense ministry with the Minister of Defense of the Philippines and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia. The Philippines also has a conflict with China - because of the Spratly Islands in the southwestern part of the South China Sea. Australia - an ally of the United States - protested against the conduct of the PRC air defense zone. Recently, Australia has become famous in connection with the spy scandal. Beijing protested to Canberra in connection with the espionage of the Australian intelligence services in the APR in conjunction with American intelligence.
The US Vice-President Biden, during his visit to China, tried to reduce the degree of tension in the region, playing the role of an intermediary between Beijing and Tokyo. However, he did not achieve anything significant. In Beijing, Biden did not raise the issue of the air defense zone and the disputed territories (at least officially). At the same time, he said that “relations between China and the United States are relations that will determine the entire course of the 21st century” and now are “the organizing principle of international relations for the years ahead.” Washington, as usual, has a tricky policy. At the same time, he knocks together the anti-Chinese bloc in the region and successfully establishes cooperation with China itself. The Chinese act on a similar principle: they increase military power, actively penetrate the most diverse countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, entangling them with all sorts of connections, from time to time throw test balloons to track the reaction of their neighbors, and immediately willingly go the United States to meet.