China Justifies 'Chaffing' Australian Aircraft; Says Spy Plane Tried To Intrude Into Its Airspace

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Chinese fighter jet over the East China Sea
File image of a Chinese SU-27 fighter jet over the East China Sea, released by the Defense Ministry of Japan.

China has justified its military's action of intercepting Australian aircraft in the South China Sea by claiming that the PLA J-16 fighter was "warning away" the spy plane when it tried to "trespass into Chinese airspace of the Xisha Islands."

The Chinese Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the PLA Southern Theater Command organized maritime and aerial forces to identify and warn away an Australian P-8A ASW aircraft, when it repeatedly 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.

"The Australian warplane severely threatened China’s sovereign security, and the Chinese military’s countermeasures were professional, safe, reasonable and legitimate," Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defense, was quoted by the state-backed newspaper Global Times.

"Australia is calling white black, keeping on spreading false information and hyping confrontation. China strongly opposes this," Tan added.

Beijing's response comes as Australia claimed the PLA J-16 fighter jet cut across the RAAF aircraft, settling in front of the P-8 at a very close distance. The jet then released a bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminum, which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft.

The spokesperson also warned Australia "to stop similar dangerous provocative moves at once and to restrict the actions of its maritime and aerial forces, or it shall bear serious consequences."

Beijing had lashed out at Canada too, after Ottawa claimed Chinese jets of harassing Canadian military jets in the skies above Asia. Beijing defended the action of PLA troops as "reasonable" and "professional."

The mouthpiece of the Chinese state also accused the U.S.-led Five Eyes alliance of conducting a new trick to provoke China. An article that appeared Tuesday on Global Times maintained that flight data proved that several such " aerial close-in reconnaissance" is being conducted in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. 

"The PLA will be prepared in terms of detecting them and warning them away with effective technical measures," the article, quoting experts, warned. 

"It seems that the US is playing a new trick by rallying gangs to join it in weaving a close-in reconnaissance web on China, and the intelligence they have gathered could then be shared in the framework of the Five Eyes alliance," Chinese analysts warned. 

Chinese fighter jet over the East China Sea

Photo: Reuters/Defense Ministry of Japan

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