You know, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. And nowhere is that more evident than in the South China Sea. Two Chinese fighter jets carried out what’s called an unsafe intercept of a US reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea.That’s according to a US Pentagon Official. But according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, the US statement was, “Not true.”
How can that be? Is one side lying? Well, lying is such a strong term. You see, the US spy plane was flying in international airspace. Unless you consider China’s point of view, which is that pretty much the entire South China Sea belongs to China. In which case it’s like Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei says, “It must be pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime and air security.”
You see it was the US acting dangerously in Chinese airspace. Even though the Chinese jets flew within 50 feet of the US spy plane. That’s like jerk in the Porche who tailgates you for only going 80 in the fast lane. But at airplane speeds. But you can’t say the Chinese jets flew within 50 feet of the American plane, without also accurately saying the US plane flew within 50 feet of the Chinese ones.
This is not a first either. Pretty much the same thing happened back in September 2015. Though that unsafe interception was 500 feet. Which, while being dangerously unsafe, is still ten times less unsafe than 50 feet.
There was also that spy plane incident in 2001—which shows you just how risky flying close can be. Because that time, unfortunately, the Chinese jet actually collided with the US spy plane, and the Chinese pilot was killed. And the US plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Hainan. Whose fault was that? Well, China forced the US to apologize before they’d release the 24 American air crew members. That took 11 days. Don’t think that’s how it should have gone? Well, I guess it’s a matter of your point of view.
And the point of view of my favorite Chinese state-run media, the Global Times, is that if the US keeps sending in more planes, “the odds of another collision will go up.” It’s the foreign policy equivalent of a windmill attack. I’m just going to keep swinging my arms, and if you get hit it’s your own fault.
Now, last week’s dangerous spy plane encounter happened just a few days ahead of US President Barack Obama making his first trip to Vietnam—where he lifted the US’s long-standing embargo on sales of lethal weapons to the communist country. It also occurred just ahead of an international tribunal in The Hague. The Philippines filed a legal challenge over China’s claims to the South China Sea. And there’s no better way to solve a legal dispute based on international law than international arbitration. Unless, from your point of view, arbitration is illegitimate and you ignore its decision.
Now we don’t know for certain where last week’s encounter actually happened. But the Chinese Foreign Ministry says it was near China’s southernmost Island province Hainan. That’s where the Chinese regime bases its growing fleet of nuclear submarines. Those are a big concern for India, and at the beginning of May, the US began talks with India about submarine warfare. I’m sure about no one in particular. Just like selling weapons to Vietnam is about no one in particular.
So what’s your point of view about last week’s incident? Be sure to express it with full vigor in the comment section below.