China says US ‘jeopardized the peace’ after Navy aircraft flew through Taiwan Strait
Stars and Stripes February 27, 2023
China claimed the U.S. Navy “jeopardized the peace and stability” of the Taiwan Strait by flying a reconnaissance aircraft above it on Monday.
The Navy’s P-8A Poseidon flew north to south in international airspace through the 110-mile strait that separates Taiwan from mainland China, according to the 7th Fleet.
“This was a routine transit moving from the East China Sea to the South China Sea in accordance with international law. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft routinely use the Taiwan Strait to transit between the two and have done so for many years,” 7th Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Kristina Wiedemann said Wednesday in an email to Stars and Stripes.
China claimed the Navy flight “deliberately disrupted the regional situation,” a spokesman for the China Eastern Theater Command, Senior Col. Shi Yi, said in a news release Monday. The command “organized troops to track and monitor” the Poseidon as it flew through the strait, Shi said in the release posted on the official China Military Online website.
China considers Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
The Navy over the past two years has regularly sent warships, usually guided-missile destroyers, through the strait on missions that evoke Chinese criticism. The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, last steamed through the strait on Jan 5.
The Navy sent a Poseidon on a similar flight in June 2022. Shi Yi, at the time, made similar complaints and said the transit disrupted the “regional situation” and endangered the “peace and stability” of the Taiwan Strait.
On Friday, a Chinese J-11 fighter buzzed a Navy Poseidon flying farther south near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, according to reports by CNN and NBC News, both of which had crews aboard the reconnaissance plane. The Chinese aircraft came within 500 feet of the Poseidon, according to the reports.
Both episodes follow weeks of increased tensions between the U.S. and China after the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. Navy and Coast Guard crews last week completed recovery of “the majority of the balloon, including the payload,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said during a Feb. 22 press conference.