In what comes as a dramatic escalation of Cold War-style diplomacy and worsening of relations between the United States and China, American warplanes have now approached the Chinese mainland, with one of them approaching within 100 km of Shanghai, a media report on Monday detailed.
An update issued by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative informed that a United States P-8A (Poseidon) anti-submarine plane and an EP-3E reconnaissance plane had entered the Taiwan Strait, flying near the coast of Zhejiang and Fujian on Sunday night.
According to the report by the think-tank linked to the Beijing-based Peking University, the P-8A warplane came as close as 76.5 km of the city of Shanghai. This is being regarded as one of the closest passes by any such American warplane to the Chinese mainland in recent years.
The update further detailed that apart from the P-8A warplane, the EP-3E reconnaissance plane had also entered the Taiwan Strait on Sunday night and had come within 106 k of Fujian’s southern coast.
The first tweet from the think tank came on Sunday morning when it said that the reconnaissance plane was flying back after approaching Fujian and the southern part of the Taiwan Strait.
The second tweet came at night, warning that the US Navy P-8A was operating near Shanghai, with the USS Rafael Peralta, a guided-missile destroyer, following a similar route, asking if it might be a joint operation.
It was the 12th day in a row that US military planes have approached the mainland coast in a reconnaissance operation undertaken by the US forces based in the region this month, it said.
According to its statistics, US planes made a record 50 sorties over the South China Sea in the first three weeks of July at a time when both countries’ armed forces were conducting training exercises.
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The timing chosen by the US to increase its reconnaissance activities in the area could lead to an “accidental clash”, the think tank warned, adding that China is expected to retaliate by counter-surveillance measures.
Tensions between the two countries hit a new low yesterday after the Xi Jinping-led regime ordered the closure of the US consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu. The police also restricted access to the area around the US consulate on Monday morning, as a 10 AM deadline loomed for the United States to vacate the premises after being given 72 hours to leave.
This, in turn, came after Washington had ordered the shutdown of China’s consulate in Houston. The move is being seen as a furious retaliation against the closure of its mission in the United States.