The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China is itching for a war. They just don’t want to be the ones to make the first move. As such, they are looking at any excuse to point and say that the U.S. started it.
At first, it seemed as though they were going to start a war because Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Then, it was because U.S. naval ships went through the Taiwan Strait.
And now, it is because U.S. helicopters are flying through “their” air space.
There’s a 12-nautical mile boundary along the coast of every country that needs to be respected. In most instances, if there’s ever an infringement on air space, a basic warning is issued, and adjustments are made.
That wasn’t the case. A U.S. MH-60 Seahawk flew into what the PLA believed was Chinese territory. It was then that a Chinese pilot warned about entering the air space. The English version was translated to say, “This is the Chinese PLA Air Force. You are approaching China’s territorial airspace. Leave immediately, leave immediately, or you will be intercepted.”
Yikes. This seems to be quite the posturing simply because a plane flew a little too close to the coast of China. Interception likely would have meant that they would have shot the plane down – and would that have been necessary?
This all went down on Sunday, and the U.S. still maintains that it wasn’t in “Chinese” air space. Instead, it was within the Air Defense Identification Zone of Taiwan. However, that hasn’t stopped China from still believing that they have the right to Taiwan.
U.S. military aircraft and naval ships have been along the east coast of China for nearly a week, though they are in the Taiwan Strait – and have the right to be there as they are not in any particular country’s territory.
The U.S. aircraft’s pilot responded to China’s threat immediately with an explanation. “I am a U.S. military aircraft conducting lawful military activities in international airspace and exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law. I am operating with due regard to the rights and duties of all states.”
10 minutes later, the PLA sounded another and more urgent warning. The U.S. pilot repeated his statement to make it clear that he was exercising his rights.
The broadcaster of the PLA Air Force explained in Mandarin that “I am the Chinese Air Force. You have entered my airspace, a serious violation of our sovereignty, leave immediately, leave immediately!”
Taiwanese authorities have reported that there was one instance where an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter flew inside of the 12-nautical mile boundary of China’s sea. The warplanes intercepted the aircraft, causing the helicopter to leave the airspace that belonged to Beijing.
Another report explains that there were two more instances of Seahawks entering China’s airspace on Monday – less than a day after receiving warnings from the PLA for entering territorial airspace. The U.S. isn’t the only one receiving warnings, either. A Japanese military aircraft was also warned by the PLA.
Taiwan has been tracking all of the activity – and this includes a significant number of military aircraft and naval ships from China that are getting closer and closer to the island.
It has become clear that China believes that it is entitled to claim all of Taiwan and the territory within the Strait as its own. It is also clear that the U.S. doesn’t respect those claims.
Eventually, this will all come to a head. It will all be a matter of who fires first. Our money is on China.