The U.S. Just Flew Its Warplanes in Chinese-Controlled Airspace

U.S. jet fighters approached the Chinese mainland.

In an unprecedented move during peacetime, the United States staged the most massive show of air force against China. For a week, seven to eight U.S. warplanes were flown to the Diaoyu Islands—a territory claimed by China and administered by Japan, which it calls Senkaku Islands. China was forced to scramble its own jets in response to what it saw as U.S. incursions. A high-ranking Japanese government official described the operation as “the largest-ever demonstration of power by US forces against China.” According to the Japanese sources, the operations were conducted starting June 24, 2022. 

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post called it an “extremely rare development,” as the U.S. has historically avoided direct confrontation with China. According to the report, ten percent of the U.S. fighter jets crossed a median line drawn by Japan to delineate its EEZ from China’s, and flew into Chinese-controlled airspace. The development comes on the heels of the recently concluded naval exercises in RIMPAC 2022, considered the world’s largest international naval exercise yet. 


China Wants to Have a Lovable and Respectable Image

Meant to Pressure China

In recent months, China has been more vocal about taking over Taiwan and increasing military activity around the island, particularly Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone or ADIZ. Taiwan is technically part of China based on the One China Policy. Although the U.S. recognizes this policy, it maintains robust diplomatic relations with Taiwan and has even provided military equipment to the island for defense against an invasion from the mainland. 


Although the U.S. does not officially support Taiwan’s aspirations for independence, it does support maintaining the status quo of Taiwan having an independent government. Back in May 2022, the U.S. warned of “especially stark” consequences if China decides to alter that status quo. 

The U.S. jet fighters’ crossing over the median line at the Senkakus not only meant to put pressure on China regarding Taiwan but also meant to test how quickly China can react to such incidents, according to SCMP.  In other words, the U.S. is using its jet fighters as a very large poking stick.

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