China media: South Korea's air defence zone

This picture taken on December 2, 2013 shows the South Korean Navy patrol-aircraft P-3C and South Korean Aegis DDG-992 during defence operations near Ieodo Ocean Research Station.
Image caption South Korea's expanded defence zone covers the airspace above a rock that is also claimed by China

China's media react coolly to South Korea's expansion of its air defence zone as regional tensions continue to brew over territorial disputes.

Official media and mainland think-tank experts are mostly playing down South Korea's expansion of its existing air defence identification zone (KADIZ).

The South Korean defence ministry announced on Sunday that it consulted with neighbours over the expansion of its zone, which will take effect from 15 December.

Seoul's move comes two weeks after China unilaterally announced its controversial air defence zone in the East China Sea on 23 November, which included a disputed submerged rock called Ieodo in Korean, Suyan in China and Socotra Rock internationally.

Japan has made similar protests over China's air zone including disputed islands claimed by the two countries, plus Taiwan.

The Global Times brushes off the South Korean air force as a mere "guard of honour" of a "small country" and says its air zone expansion has "no real military significance".

"South Korea needs to take into account the serious consequences if it seriously oversteps the bounds in China-Republic of Korea relations. China has many levers to pry apart South Korea in terms of the economy or peninsula diplomacy," it warns.

In other key official newspapers such as the Liberation Army Daily or People's Daily, there are only brief factual reports tucked below the top international news stories on South Korea expanding its air zone.

Liu Jiangyong, a deputy director of the Institute of International Studies at Beijing's Tsinghua University, tells the Ta Kung Pao, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper, that in contrast to Japan's "refusal to communicate and poor attitude", Seoul is likely to consult closely with Beijing over their overlapping air zones to avoid conflict.

Lu Chao, a Koreas specialist at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, tells the Global Times that Seoul's move was "not a friendly gesture towards China", but he also foresees little chance of a major bilateral fall-out.

In other international news, there is little media comment on the North Korean official media's confirmation on the ousting of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, Chang Song-thaek, from power.

However, the North Korean media's details of Chang's alleged "criminal acts" have been a big story across many news portals, including the official Xinhua news agency.

Frugal reception

Turning to domestic news, severe smog which has enveloped much of central and eastern China for several days is expected to clear by today, following the arrival of a cold front on Sunday.

The air quality indexes in 104 cities in 20 provinces across the country were "heavily" or "severely" polluted on Sunday, Hong Kong's Ming Pao reports.

The Global Times rebukes unnamed influential internet users for "wanting the limelight by stirring up public agitation" amid growing unease over the pollution.

And finally, the central government on Sunday issued new rules to enforce frugality when local authorities entertain visiting officials, The Beijing News reports.

The rules include a ban on dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and exotic wild animal products at official banquets. Cigarettes and expensive spirits are now off limits at official dinners as well as the use of private clubs and upscale dining.

Cadres below provincial level are barred from staying in hotel suites on official trips. Local hosts are also banned from giving cash, negotiable securities, souvenirs or local products as gifts for visiting officials.

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