China Accuses U-2 of Violating Northern No-Fly Space, and Next Day Fires Warning Missiles in South China Sea
Aug. 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—China has accused the U.S. of violating a no-fly zone temporarily imposed over a PLA Navy live-fire exercise yesterday with a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, issued the charge in response to the flight of the U-2 into an airspace used for live-fire exercises by the Northern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, reported Xinhua. The trespass severely affected China’s normal exercises and training activities, and violated the rules of behavior for air and maritime safety between China and the United States, as well as relevant international practices, said Wu. The U.S. action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents, said Wu, and stating that the move was an obvious provocation.
The PLA statement didn’t indicate where the airspace violation occurred, but a source close to the Chinese military told South China Morning Post that the U-2 had left from a military base in South Korea, and flew over the Bohai Gulf where China’s aircraft carrier, the Shandong, was taking part in the exercise.
U.S. Pacific Air Forces confirmed the fact of the U-2 flight to CNN but insisted that it didn’t violate any rules. “A U-2 sortie was conducted in the Indo-Pacific area of operations and within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights. Pacific Air Forces personnel will continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing,” the statement said.
About 24 hours later, the PLA launched two missiles into the South China Sea, a DF-21D from Zhejiang province in the east, and a Df-26B, the so-called “aircraft-carrier killer” missile, from the northwestern province of Qinghai. The landing areas were within a zone that Hainan maritime safety authorities said on Aug. 21 would be off limits because of military exercises from Aug. 24-29, reported South China Morning Post. A Chinese military source told SCMP that the missile launch test was aimed at improving China’s ability to deny other forces access to the South China Sea, a disputed region. “This is China’s response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming U.S. warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea,” the source said. “China doesn’t want the neighboring countries to misunderstand Beijing’s goals.”
The reports of the missile launches came only a few hours after the Beijing-based South China Sea Probing Initiative said a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft RC-135S, used for collecting intelligence on ballistic missiles, was tracked flying over the South China Sea.