China Protests U.S. Navy P-8 Flight over Taiwan Strait

July 13, 2023 12:45 PM
A P-8A Poseidon from the ‘Pelicans’ of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 flies by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Feb. 24, 2023. US Navy Photo

TAIPEI, Taiwan — China’s military protested a U.S. Navy P-8A flight through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, as the PLA continues operating near the island.

China’s Ministry of National Defense said the U.S. “hyped [the aircraft transit] publicly,” according to an English language statement citing a People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command spokesperson.

“The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command have tracked and monitored the US aircraft in the whole course, and handled it in line with laws and regulations,” Col. Shi Yi said in a statement.

The P-8A Poseidon flew south over the Taiwan Strait, USNI News understands. U.S. Navy P-8As periodically fly over the Taiwan Strait.

“A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace on July 13 (local time). By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations,” U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement. “The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”

The U.S. aircraft’s flight comes as the PLA and the People’s Liberation Army Navy perform drills around Taiwan. As of Thursday morning local time, Taiwan identified 33 aircraft flying near the island, including 24 that flew over the median line in the strait or into the air defense identification zone, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. The ADIZ is not the same as air space and is a larger area. The 24 PLA aircraft include Shenyang J-16 fighters and Xian H-6 bombers.

“The PLA aircraft conducted surveillance on a P-8A aircraft from the US and engaged in long-range aerial reconnaissance training,” Taiwan’s MND said.

The median line is an informal partition in the strait between Taiwan and China. Since former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan last summer, PLAN ships and aircraft have increasingly crossed the median line in the strait, a Taiwan Coast Guard official told USNI News. China performed a series of drills around Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit last August and did so again in April after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in California.

As of Thursday morning, nine PLAN ships were operating around the island, according to Taiwan’s MND.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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