China has protested a US spy plane 'trespassing' into a no-fly zone of a live-fire drill by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently.
A Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman on Tuesday described the flight as a “blatant act of provocation,” warning that an accident could have occurred. He did not say when the incident occurred or where.
The U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft trespassed into a no-fly zone that is currently hosting a live-fire drill by the PLA Northern Theater Command on Tuesday, which seriously interrupted the Chinese troops' normal exercises, said Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian in a statement.
According to navigation restriction notices released by Chinese maritime safety authorities in the past days, multiple live-fire drills were being held on Tuesday in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, which are under the jurisdiction of the PLA Northern Theater Command.
The US military aircraft faced the risk of being mistakenly shot down when it entered a previously announced military drill restriction zone, and the PLA exercised great restraint not to do so, Chinese media said.
“The move seriously violated the code of conduct for the safety of air and maritime encounters between China and the US, as well as related international norms, and could have easily caused misunderstanding and misjudgment, and even triggered an air and maritime accident,” Spokesman Wu said.
A Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Tuesday that it is a normal practice for many militaries including the US' to announce no-fly zones to prevent accidents. The US spy plane knowingly committed the offense, which was very dangerous and disregarded the safety of the US pilot.
The Japanese and US militaries together conducted for a number of joint exercises involving warships, heavy bombers, advanced fighter jets and an aircraft carrier in the waters and airspace near Japanlast week. The exercise site was in proximity to the site where China conducted its own exercise.
In addition, a US RC-135S reconnaissance aircraft on Wednesday flew near ongoing Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) drills in the South China Sea. The RC-135S is designed to gather data on ballistic missile launches, re-entry and electronic information, which means the US might believe the PLA was conducting live-fire anti-ship ballistic missile exercises in the South China Sea, Chinese media reported.
The US is increasing the frequency of its close-up reconnaissance of PLA drills in order to pry about the PLA's capabilities, which is provocative, brings the risk of accidents, and could lead to escalation.
The RC-135S is designed to gather data on ballistic missile launches, re-entry and electronic information, which means the US might believe the PLA was conducting live-fire anti-ship ballistic missile exercises in the South China Sea, the reports said.