By Mei Jingya, Sina English
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak said in a speech on Monday his government is bolstering protection of two of the country’s most remote areas to fend off growing threats to the country’s maritime security.
Lee made the remarks in Busan while attending events commemorating the 59th anniversary of S.Korea's maritime police.
He added that S.Koreans cannot afford to let their guard down even for a moment as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “continues to threaten with maritime provocations” and tensions are also mounting in waters in Northeast Asia.
South Korean naval patrol boats fired warning shots on Friday at six DPRK fishing boats that allegedly crossed the Yellow Sea border. It was the first time for two years that Seoul has resorted to gunfire to retreat its neighbor’s fishing boats.
In his speech, Lee said his government has recently taken steps to strengthen the security of Ieo Island and Dokdo. Ieo Island, (known as Suyan Reef in Chinese), is not an island according to international maritime laws, but an underwater reef located within China’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In March 2012, Lee said Suyan Reef would naturally belong to South Korea if Seoul and Beijing could reach agreements on EEZs of the two countries. His remarks caused a buzz immediately.
Chinese foreign ministry said the overlapping areas between EEZs should be handled through negotiations and neither side can take unilateral actions before an agreement is reached.
Meanwhile, China and South Korea share a common understanding that the reef does not have the status as territory, hence no territorial dispute is in realistic existence between China and South Korea.