South Korea is considering expansion of its air defense identification zone, after China refused to modify a recently declared air zone of its own to steer it clear of Seoul's, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.
"Since China's unilateral declaration, we have discussed ways to expand KADIZ (the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone) and related agencies have now formed a general understanding that expansion is necessary," a government official told Yonhap on condition of anonymity.
Officials have discussed to what extent the zone should be expanded and how to notify neighboring countries once a decision is made, the official said.
"We can't do this in the unilateral way China did and cause frictions with neighboring countries," another government official told Yonhap, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Saturday, Beijing declared its new air zone that covers a larger part of the East China Sea than before. The move angered Seoul because the zone encroaches upon that of South Korea and covers an underwater rock claimed by China and controlled by Seoul which refers to it as Ieodo.
During annual high-level defense talks with China in Seoul on Thursday, South Korea expressed "strong regret" and demanded the Chinese zone be modified to keep it out of South Korea's air zone.
China, however, rejected the demand, with Seoul telling Beijing that it would consider expanding its own.
An expanded zone is sure to include Ieodo, according to experts.
"For neighboring countries, expanding our air defense identification zone can amount to reducing their areas of operation," an official was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
"We will work out the best solution after taking all factors, such as national interests, international practices and the international maritime law, into account," he said.