China scrambles air, ground forces to monitor US recon plane over Taiwan Strait
BEIJING: China deployed “aerial and ground forces” to monitor an US P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, which flew over the Taiwan Strait on Friday in the backdrop of large scale Chinese armed forces’ military drills around the self-ruled island of Taiwan earlier this week.
The US Navy’s reconnaissance aircraft flew over the Taiwan Strait on Friday in what the US Indo-Pacific Command described as a demonstration of the US’s “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
“A US Navy P-8A Poseidon transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace on June 24. The US will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait,” the statement read.
“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the US upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations. The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
China claims Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as its own territory and has not ruled out using force to merge it with the mainland.
In China, the flight of the US aircraft was strongly denounced as an intentional move to “disrupt the regional situation and endanger the cross-Straits peace and stability.”
“The air and ground forces of the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tracked and monitored the US aircraft’s passage and remained alert in the whole course,” Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theatre Command, said in a written statement released on Saturday.
Calling the move “provocative”, Shi said the US move jeopardises regional situations and harms the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the Chinese side is “adamantly opposed” to that.
“The troops of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command keep high vigilance at all times to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, ‘’ said the statement.
Chinese state media called the move “particularly provocative” because foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin had said recently that there’s “no such thing as international waters” in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and that China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait”.
Earlier this week, China dispatched 29 warplanes into Taiwan’s self-declared air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the third time this year that Beijing has deployed over two dozen aircraft around the island.
The PLA, according to the state-run tabloid, Global Times, reportedly held large-scale military drills around the island of Taiwan this week, “…sending dozens of warplanes, including fighter jets, bombers and early warning aircraft, and a number of warships, including destroyers and frigates, to the southwest and east of the island of Taiwan and east and south to Japan.
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