South China Sea has witnessed a "sharp increase" in the frequency, intensity, and pertinence of US military’s close-in reconnaissance on China since 2009, said a Beijing-based think tank on Thursday.
The US military’s frequent close-in reconnaissance is “always one of the three major obstacles to the Sino-US military relations, and has been more and more serious and risky, in the past two decades,” the South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said in its report.
“Nowadays, US flies up to 2,000 sorties of reconnaissance planes to the Yellow, East and South China Seas per year,” the report said.
“They are getting closer and closer. On March 22, 2021, a USAF RC-135U Combat Sent made an unprecedented run at China’s airspace, approaching 25.3 NM from the coast of mainland China; On August 25, 2020, a USAF U-2 flew into a previously declared no-fly zone, where the PLA was conducting live-fire military exercise,” it added.
The report came on the 20th anniversary of a Chinese jet crash. On April 1, 2001, a US Navy EP-3 aircraft collided with a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy J-8 fighter jet, killing a Chinese pilot.
The incident happened 104 kilometers (62 miles) off the southeastern coast of China’s Hainan island.
The Damaged EP-3’s had made an emergency landing at Linshui airport on Hainan island and the dispute was resolved after four months of negotiations.
The crisis was resolved with US’s apology, compensation and China’s release of the US plane and crew, the report recalled.
“The US reconnaissance activities are also taking on new features. To begin with is the ‘reconnaissance in disguise’,” it said.