China’s movement around Taiwan and the South China Sea has triggered the movement of Navies from the US and Asia. However, our Air Forces have reportedly been butting heads with the Chinese Air Force because of territorial overlap.

A radio recording shows how the Chinese Air Force frantically argues and orders the US military aircraft out of the Taiwan Strait. (See the video recording of the radio broadcast below).

The US military aircraft was supposedly approaching the east coast of China from the Taiwan Strait at 8:14 a.m. on Aug. 28. The Chinese Air Force was heard warning the US pilots in Mandarin and English.

“I am the Chinese Air Force. You are approaching my airspace. Leave immediately, or I will intercept,” said the Chinese airman.

On the other hand, the pilot of the US aircraft was heard responding, “I am a United States military aircraft conducting lawful military activities in international airspace and exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law. I am operating with due regard to the rights and duties of all states.”

Both sides repeated these messages for over an hour. Furthermore, at around 10:32 a.m. that same day, the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force was heard saying in Mandarin and English:

“This is the Chinese PLA Air Force. You have entered China’s territorial airspace. A serious violation of China’s sovereignty. Leave immediately! Leave immediately!”

The following day, at around 10 a.m., the PLA Air Force was heard again on radio broadcasts warning the US military pilots because they had supposedly entered Chine’s territory. Nevertheless, the US aircraft continued on its course and was warned yet again that it was overstepping its “sovereignty.”

“Leave immediately!” repeated the PLA Air Force.

USS Antietam
Side view of the USS Antietam (CG-54) Cruiser. (Source: RoyKabanlit/Wikimedia)

The MH-60 Seahawk helicopters were most likely the aircraft in action during this discourse. These came from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). On Aug. 28, these two warships entered the Taiwan Strait, and they both have either the Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahaw LAMPS III helicopters.

The US Navy released a statement clarifying that the warships were conducting legal “routine” exercises that follow international law.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Straight demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”

China says the US provokes them with these warships and aircraft (cruising and flying around the Taiwan Strait).

“The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command always stay on high alert and get ready to thwart any provocation,” said senior Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command.

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China Warnings, New Normal

Taiwanese media reported that these warnings from China have become routine. Taiwan Navy’s Cheng Kung-class Ship Chang Chien Captain, Li Kuang-ping, said they frequently communicate with the Chinese Navy ships over radio while on missions at sea. Both sides were reportedly issuing warnings to avoid each other.

“Even though we know each other’s position, we cannot agree with each other,” he said.

In another instance, small Chinese fishing boats operating near a Chinese military exercise have radioed their own Navy to attack the Taiwanese Navy.

Taiwan Navy said the local Chinese fishermen were heard saying “provocative words…through the radio on the public channel,” according to CNA.

“Hit him, beat him (the national warship), don’t talk too much [sic].”

The Taiwanese Navy said they did not pay attention to these remarks.

On Aug. 30, President Tsai Ing-wen visited Pengchu to inspect the Tien Chu Air Force Unit and the Navy’s 146th Fleet to offer encouragement as they face the volatile Chinese military. They are constantly dealing with drone incursions, three of which have been shot down by the Taiwanese military after intruding in Kinmen County.

The Army’s Kinmen Defense Command (KDC) said that the “civilian” Chinese drones violated their airspace since it is already scoping above Lieyu, Dadan, and the Caoyu Islands. After firing at the drones, they moved away from the region. However, the area has been on high alert since the event.