A US Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane flew over the Taiwan Strait on Friday, drawing a rebuke from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“In the recent period, US warships and planes have frequently carried out provocative actions, fully proving that the US is a disruptor of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and a creator of security risks in the Taiwan Strait,” said Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command.
Shi also said the Eastern Theater Command had “organized troops to track and monitor the US aircraft in the whole course.”
The US Navy’s Japan-based Seventh Fleet insisted the flyover was done in “accordance with international law” and said the US would continue to “fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait.”
Earlier in April, the US sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait, which is more common than a flyover. The last time a US spy plane flew over the sensitive waterway was in February, which marked the first US military flight in the Taiwan Strait since June 2022.
Also on Friday, Taiwan reported an uptick in Chinese military activity. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said it detected 38 PLA aircraft, including 19 that crossed the median line, which separates the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The ministry also detected six PLA Navy vessels.
China has stepped up military pressure in response to growing US-Taiwan ties. The PLA used to very rarely send aircraft across the median line, but since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, it has become a common occurrence.
Friday marked the largest Chinese show of force in the region since the PLA held major drills earlier this month in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in California.