‘Threatened Sovereignty': China Slams Australia for Flying P-8 Spy Plane Over Paracel Islands

CC0 / / P-8A Poseidon
P-8A Poseidon  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2022
In a release dated 5 June, Australia’s Defence Department noted that its P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft had been “intercepted” by a Chinese J-16 fighter jet on 26 May, while carrying out “routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the South China Sea”.
China has slammed Australia for flying a reconnaissance aircraft near the airspace of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, saying that the action “seriously threatened” Beijing’s “sovereignty” in the region.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command organised maritime and aerial forces to identify and warn away an Australian P-8A ASW (anti-submarine warfare) aircraft, when it approached the Chinese airspace of the Xisha Islands (Paracel Islands) for a close-in reconnaissance on May 26 despite repeated warning from the Chinese forces,” Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defence, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Beijing exercises sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, or over the region that it says falls under the nine-dash line.
In July 2016, a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) court dismissed Beijing’s “historical” claims under the nine-dash line in the South China Sea. Beijing has dismissed the ruling.
China’s claims to the Paracel Islands are disputed by its southern neighbour Vietnam.
Tan warned Canberra of “serious consequences” if it didn’t rein in the activities of its defence forces in the region.
The Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson asserted that Beijing’s “countermeasures” to deal with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) spy plane were “professional, safe, reasonable and legitimate”, as per the statement.
Tan rejected Canberra’s claim that the “intercept” of the Australian aircraft “resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew”.
FILE - This July 20, 2011, file photo shows an aerial view of Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2022
China Has Every Right to Deploy Equipment on South China Sea Islands, Defenсe Ministry Says
Tan accused Australia of “spreading false information and hyping confrontation” over the incident.
“China strongly opposes this," Tan remarked.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated that Beijing “will never allow any country to violate China’s sovereignty and security or undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea under the pretext of freedom of navigation”. He said it while responding to a question over the incident.

“China once again urges the Australian side to earnestly respect China’s national security interests and major concerns, and be cautious in words and actions to avoid miscalculation and serious consequences,” Zhao said.
In its press release dated 5 June, Australia’s Defence Department said that it had raised the incident with the Chinese counterparts.
Canberra said that it had been undertaking maritime surveillance activities in the region for decades as per “international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace”.
Australia’s continued surveillance activity in the South China Sea has been primarily backed by the US, which itself carries out controversial Freedom of Navigation operations (FONOPs) in the region.
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