South Korea and China held closed-door talks last week aimed at demarcating their economic exclusive zones (EEZs) ahead of an expected summit meeting between their leaders, a source said Tuesday.
The Friday talks come as the two countries remain at odds over Beijing's declaration last year of its new air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that encroaches upon South Korea's and includes the Seoul-controlled submerged rock of Ieodo.
Ieodo, which is 4.6 meters below sea level, lies within the overlapping EEZs of South Korea and China. Although international maritime law stipulates that a submerged rock cannot be claimed as territory by any country, South Korea effectively controls Ieodo, which is closer to it than any other country.
Ieodo is located 149 kilometers southwest of Korea's southernmost island of Marado and 247 kilometers northeast of the nearest Chinese island Tongdao.
South Korea has reinforced its jurisdiction over the islet, and as part of such efforts, it built an unmanned maritime research station on it in 2003 to monitor weather conditions and survey maritime features in the area.
The two countries have been in negotiations over demarcation of their EEZs since 1996, but little headway has been made due to sharp differences over each stance.
South Korea has insisted that a median line based on equal distance from the shore should become the demarcation line.
But China has said that the population and total length of the shoreline should be taken into account in regards of drawing of the EEZ zones. China's claim could push the demarcation line close to South Korean shores, a condition not accepted by Seoul.
During last year's summit, leaders from Seoul and Beijing agreed to expedite the process of such negotiations and the topic is widely expected to be dealt with when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Seoul in the near future, according to the source. (Yonhap)