US Navy Plane Flies Through Taiwan Strait, China Carries out More Drills

By Reuters
July 15, 2023Asia & Pacific
US Navy Plane Flies Through Taiwan Strait, China Carries out More Drills
A P-8A Poseidon attached to Maritime Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 flies over the guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) in the South China Sea on June 29, 2016. (Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Daniel Rodriguez/U.S. Navy via Reuters)

TAIPEI—Chinese fighter jets monitored a U.S. Navy patrol plane that flew through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Thursday, as China carried out a third day of military exercises to the south of the island Beijing views as China’s sovereign territory.

The Chinese communist regime has been incensed by U.S. military missions through the narrow strait, most frequently of warships but occasionally of aircraft, saying China “has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” over the waterway. Taiwan and the United States dispute that, saying it is an international waterway. The U.S. Navy’s 7th fleet said the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane, which is also used for anti-submarine missions, flew through the strait in international airspace.

“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations,” it said in a statement.

The Chinese military described the flight as “public hype,” adding it sent fighters to monitor and warn the U.S. plane.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said Chinese warplanes and warships carried out a third day of exercises to the island’s south on Thursday, and that it detected 26 aircraft including advanced Chinese J-16 and Su-30 fighters flying out to sea and “responding to” the U.S. Poseidon.

The ministry said the U.S. aircraft had stuck to the strait’s median line and flew in a southerly direction on Thursday morning, and that Taiwan’s forces kept watch.

The median line normally serves as an unofficial barrier between Taiwan and China.

However, since last August when China held large-scale war games around Taiwan, Chinese military aircraft have been frequently crossing the line, though generally quite briefly.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) latest drills near Taiwan have involved fighters, bombers, and warships, with the aircraft mainly flying to the island’s south and out into the Pacific through the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines, according to maps provided by Taiwan’s defense ministry.

The Chinese regime has not commented on the exercises, which have taken place less than two weeks before Taiwan stages its own annual drills and as NATO alliance leaders said the CCP challenges its interests, security, and values with its “ambitions and coercive policies.”

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