A US Navy surveillance plane flew through the Taiwan Strait on Monday amid heightened tensions between the US and China, drawing a rebuke from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said in a press release that China “opposes the US’s action, which has deliberately disrupted the regional situation and jeopardized the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet announced the flyover of a P-8A Poseidon aircraft through the sensitive waterway, saying the US will “operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait.”
US warships frequently transit the Taiwan Strait at about a monthly rate, but US surveillance planes fly over the waterway less often. According to The South China Morning Post, Monday’s transit was only the second time in eight months that a US warplane made the flight.
In June 2022, a US P-8 made a similar flight two weeks after China said the Taiwan Strait was “not international waters” as Beijing considers Taiwan to be its own territory.
US warplanes have a much heavier presence over the South China Sea, where they often encounter Chinese aircraft. Frequent US flights in the region make an accident between the two militaries more likely, which could quickly spiral into a full-blown conflict due to the poor state of US-China relations.