South Korean military defies China air zone

A Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force's P-3C Orion surveillance plane flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in 2011. An update of Japan's long-term defence policy, to be unveiled nex
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force's P-3C Orion surveillance plane flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in 2011. An update of Japan's long-term defence policy, to be unveiled next month, will call for stronger air and maritime surveillance capabilities and the improved ability to defend far-flung isles as concerns rise about China's growing military assertiveness. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea's military said on Thursday one of its planes had flown through China's newly-declared air defence zone in the East China Sea without informing Beijing.

The flight on Tuesday was part of a regular military surveillance exercise around a disputed, submerged, South Korean-controlled rock - known as Ieodo - that has long been a source of diplomatic tension with Beijing.

"We did not notify China," a defence ministry spokesman said.

China unilaterally declared a new "air defence identification zone" on Saturday over an area that includes Ieodo, as well as a set of islands at the centre of a tense territorial dispute between China and Japan.

Both Tokyo and Seoul have rejected China's demand that all aircraft traversing the zone file flight plans and ID details, and two US B-52 bombers flew through the area on Monday without complying.

The South Korean spokesman said military planes would continue to fly over the Ieodo area without providing any notification to China.