This is why we don't need F-16s....
The Ministry of National Defense announced that Chinese Su-27s allegedly chasing a US surveillance aircraft crossed the invisible center line in the Taiwan Strait:
The military and national security apparatus was in “full control” when two Chinese Sukhoi-27 fighters crossed the centerline in the Taiwan Strait on June 29, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.A KMTer spun the incident as one taking place between China and the US, which did not involve Taiwan, an interesting viewpoint. I guess "launching fighters" is the same as "not being involved."
The Chinese-language newspaper United Daily News reported that one of the two Chinese fighter aircraft had crossed the theoretical median maritime border between Taiwan and China while allegedly pursuing a U-2S high-altitude US reconnaissance aircraft.
Two Taiwanese F-16 aircraft intercepted the Su-27s, which subsequently returned to Chinese airspace, the report said.
Like Helen of Troy, this incident launched a thousand (air)ships as netizens dredged up old stories. The adherence to the allegedly 1951 US-defined centerline is of recent vintage, as this 2008 piece notes:
From 1949, when nationalist forces left the Mainland and went to Taiwan, until 1999, there were no restraints on Taiwanese jets flying over the line, Lee said.But as this 2004 piece in the Straits Times observes, the line has never been clearly defined between the three gov'ts -- because Beijing fears that a clear cut demarcation in the Strait will make Taiwan even more independent than it already is. Other pieces give clear lines.
“During the 50 years ... PLA air force fighter aircraft were seldom active over the strait, and the two sides seemed to have a tacit understanding and lived in peace with each other,” Lee wrote in the September 2008 issue of Taiwan's Chien-tuan K'o-chi (Defense Technology Monthly).
China stepped up flights over the strait after Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui adopted his two-state theory. To avoid conflicts, Taiwanese jets gradually withdrew training flights to areas east of the mid-line. Freedom to conduct missions over the line was “greatly reduced,” Lee wrote.
“However, there was not yet a formal announcement to the outside world, and at that time, Chinese fighter aircraft activity west of the Taiwan Strait mid-line was also very cautious,” he said.
“When the former minister of national defense publicly announced that Taiwan's fighter aircraft would never cross the mid-line, it was the equivalent of announcing that Taiwan had abandoned the airspace west of the mid-line and after that, Chinese fighter aircraft activities in this area increased daily, and gradually became normal,” he said.
In 2004 the TSU actually called for a new constitution to clearly define what is Taiwan's and what is China's in the Strait -- who owns what in the Taiwan Strait will become yet another contested issue if Taiwan formally ratifies its existing de facto independence one day. You can imagine what China will do -- fight rearguard sovereignty actions over the Penghu, which are "indisputably Chinese and have been for every freakin' second of the last 5000 thousand years." Then will come the struggles over fishing and mineral rights. Taiwan independence won't be the end of the process of disengagement from China, but the beginning of one....
It should be clear by now that the whole fictional construction of "5,000 years of Chinese history" exists merely to facilitate China's territorial expansion.
The Washington Times reported on this incident in more detail:
Two Chinese jet fighters came dangerously close to a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft last week during an encounter reminiscent of the aerial collision that touched off a U.S.-China crisis.Some reports in the US Chinese language media from a few years ago appear to indicate that Chinese jets sortie hundreds of times a year and during Chen's UN entry campaign appeared to increase their sorties in response. But this may merely be disinformation aimed at Chinese in the US to say: "Look what we're doing about the awful Chen Shui-bian!"
Two F-7 jets tracked the EP-3 as it flew in international airspace off the northern coast of China, U.S. intelligence officials tell us.
"They came within 250 feet," said one official.
The encounter was close, said some officials, but less threatening than Chinese aerial engagements in the past, which have come within a few feet of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.
U.S. intelligence agencies have increased electronic intelligence gathering from China in order to pick up new information on recent Communist Party leadership changes.
The aerial intercept also coincided with renewed Chinese fighter sorties near Taiwan. For the first time in months, Chinese military forces began flying new Su-30 fighter bombers close to the demarcation line that runs down the center of the Taiwan Strait.
At least 12 sorties were detected by U.S. intelligence. The flights were viewed by U.S. officials as provocative and coincided with the major Communist Party congress in Beijing that ended last week.
MEDIA: One really great thing about the FT piece is that Kathrin Hille, who was one of the most knowledgeable, tough-minded reporters about Taiwan I met here, wrote:
Taiwan has not been controlled by a Beijing-based government since China ceded the island to Japan in 1895, but Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island.Pithy and historically-accurate. Are you listening, AP? Thanks, Kathrin, that was really great to see.
UPDATE: Totally gutless FT has edited out the "since 1895" remark, leaving: "While Beijing still claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened an invasion if the self-ruled island declared independence, relations between the two sides have warmed since Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008" Dear FT, in case you were wondering why people read blogs, this is why.
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