In spite of severe objections from the Chinese military, a reconnaissance plane from the U.S. Navy flew across the Taiwan Strait on Monday. The purpose of this action was to demonstrate that the U.S. has the right to operate in international airspace.
But Army Senior Col. Shi Yi, a spokesman for China's Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), accused the U.S. government of exaggerating the significance of the flight and escalating tensions.
According to a post that was published on the website of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in English, Shi stated that the flight by the U.S. "has deliberately disrupted the regional situation and jeopardized the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
The U.S. 7th Fleet issued a statement on Monday stating that the flight of the P-8A Poseidon over the waterway that divides China and the self-ruled island of Taiwan was conducted in accordance with international law, and that this flight demonstrated "the U.S.' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."
An article published in the nationalist, state-run tabloid Global Times claimed that the flight of the U.S. Navy antisubmarine warfare and surveillance jet was "just another provocation aimed at stirring up troubles." This allegation was amplified in Chinese state media, which also contributed to the dissemination of this information.
According to a statement released by the U.S. 7th Fleet, the U.S. will continue "flying, sailing, and operating anywhere international law allows, including within the Taiwan Strait."
As part of its campaign to maintain a steady level of military pressure on Taiwan, Beijing conducts daily patrols of the Taiwan Strait using military aircraft and vessels.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday that it had spotted 14 PLA aircraft and three naval vessels in the area around the island. Of those, four aircraft were said to have crossed the median line of the strait, which had for decades served as an informal demarcation line between the two sides but is now routinely ignored by Beijing.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) deployed five aircraft and three ships on Tuesday, which is an increase over the four aircraft and three ships that Taiwan observed on Monday, none of which crossed the median line.
The flight of a U.S. P-8A on Monday drew substantial notice from the PLA, making it the second such trip in less than a week to do so.
Despite the fact that it has never been under its direct authority, the Chinese Communist Party considers the island of Taiwan, which has a population of 24 million people and is governed democratically, to be a part of China's sovereign territory.