By John Galt
July 25, 2011
From the Financial Times July 25, 1112 EDT:
By Kathrin Hille in Beijing
Two Chinese fighter jets crossed the middle line in the Taiwan Strait late last month for the first time in more than a decade to repel a US spy aircraft, according to defence sources in Taipei and Beijing.
This marks the first known encounter between US and Chinese military aircraft in mid-air since a US reconnaissance aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter jet in 2001 and was forced to land on Hainan island, sparking a crisis that severely damaged bilateral relations.
The timing is uncanny as Secretary of State Clinton arrives to discuss calming down the situation in the South China Sea.
****** UPDATED 1146 ET ************
Chinese jets enter Taiwanese airspace while chasing American spy aircraft
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has accused Chinese fighter jets of intruding into their airspace, adding that the incident was not provocative but raised concerns between the two neighbors.
The incident, on June 29, also showcased delicate relations between Beijing and Taipei despite fast-warming ties since a China-friendly president came to power.
According to the island’s local newspaper, United Daily News, the incident happened late last month when two Chinese SU-27 fighter planes were apparently driving away an American U2 reconnaissance aircraft, which was flying along the Taiwan Strait to collect Chinese mainland information.
During the chase, one of the Chinese jets crossed the Taiwan Strait, which is widely known as the airspace boundary between China and Taiwan. “The intruder did not turn back until two F-16 fighters of (the) Taiwan Air Force scrambled to intercept it,” an unnamed military source said. “The mainland military needs to exercise its restraint, or unexpected clashes may happen,” ruling Kuomintang party legislator Shuai Hua-min warned.