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U.S., Chinese aircraft bristle in encounter over disputed islands

U.S., Chinese aircraft bristle in encounter over disputed islands

Taipei, May 27 (CNA) China's Quanzou Evening News stated Wednesday that the U.S. armed forces are stepping up surveillance of disputed islands in the South China Sea amid rising tension with Beijing. According to U.S. reports, a U.S. Navy P-8A aircraft received eight warnings from a Chinese fighter jet as it flew over Chinese land reclamation projects on a number of reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands. A similar encounter occurred last August when a Chinese J-11 fighter flew within 30 feet of a P-8A some 217 kilometers east of China's Hainan Island, while other reports have claimed that China recently attempted to electronically jam a U.S. Global Hawk long-range surveillance drone. The Chinese newspaper report said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has shortlisted the Spratly Islands, in particular its under-construction facilities on Fiery Island Reef, as the ideal staging area and base of operations for its fleet of nuclear submarines. Most notably, the U.S. reports of the incident were accompanied by videos shot by a CNN news crew aboard the P-8A. The release of the video footage represents an attempt by Washington to draw international attention to what Chinese regional commentators deem to be a Chinese domestic affair. They also expect the U.S. to continue surveillance and mapping efforts in the disputed area. Wang Xaiopeng (???), an expert in the South China Sea territorial dispute at Beijing's China Academy of Social Sciences, said that recent U.S. actions in the air space over the territory have added a level of complexity to the ongoing dispute. The U.S. is vying to play a greater role in the dispute as it escalates, Wang said. In addition, Wang claimed that the U.S is attempting to woo Japan and the Philippines as allies in order to deter Chinese efforts in the territorial dispute. The Chinese armed forces have also been strengthening their air and naval combat capabilities in the region, as U.S. forces expand their involvement in contention over the islands. In the "cat and mouse" scenario of airborne anti-submarine warfare, the P-8A is capable of carrying a payload of more than eight torpedoes, as well as a large cache of advanced sonobuoys, which allows the aircraft to quickly cover and hunt for targets in expansive areas. Apart from anti-submarine warfare, the aircraft is also designed for anti-ship and maritime patrol duties. Under the sea, with a dive speed of 26 knots, China's nuclear submarines are capable of reaching deep depth regions in the South China Sea away from major sea lanes in about 10 to 12 hours. Their chances of evading detection are improved if they are launched at night. (By Eva Feng and Ted Chen)


Updated : 2021-09-24 00:17 GMT+08:00