Fletcher in the News

China Risks Cooler South Korea Ties With Air Defense Zone: Professor Lee Weighs In

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
China’s overlap of its new air zone with that of South Korea in the East China Sea has complicated its efforts to forge closer ties with President Park Geun Hye and gives her an incentive to further strengthen relations with the U.S.

Park will tomorrow meet Vice President Joseph Biden, who has called on South Korea and Japan to stand with the U.S. in the face of China’s assertion of its military muscle. Park and her top defense officials were hosting Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi less than three weeks ago as part of her effort to boost trade and secure China’s help in containing North Korea.

China’s air zone, originally set up to challenge Japanese territorial claims in the East China Sea, extends over an underwater rock on which South Korea has built a research station and heliport. Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin said today the government plans to extend South Korea’s own air defense zone over the disputed rock, threatening to escalate tensions in the region…

…“Biden will have his hands full exhorting his nation’s two allies in Northeast Asia to cool down and mend fences,” Lee Sung-Yoon, a professor of Korean studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, said in an e-mail.

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