• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 2:38am
NewsChina Insider

US spy plane may have triggered Chinese jet interception by dropping sonar buoy: state media

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 11:19am

A Chinese fighter jet’s interception of a US Navy sub-hunter aircraft was possibly triggered when the American plane dropped a sonar surveillance system into the South China Sea, according to state media.

A Chinese J-11 fighter jet reportedly flew within metres of the US Navy P-8 Poseidon when it performed acrobatic manoeuvres around it over international waters east of Hainan Island last week, triggering a war of words between the two nations.

US officials called the act “aggressive” and “dangerous” but China denied its pilot did anything wrong and said the manoeuvre was a response to “large-scale and highly frequent close-in reconnaissance” by US aircraft.

A report in the Beijing-based Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, quoted an anonymous military expert who said that Chinese pilots have adopted a series of standard interception guidelines after years of standoffs with US aircraft.

The source said that it was possible that the US jet had dropped a sonobouy – an expendable sonar system used to conduct underwater surveillance – into the sea. If that happened and Chinese submarines had sensed a threat, then the submarine would have called for assistance from fighter jets, the source said, adding that the dropping of a sonobouy would be seen as a very serious act of provocation.

The US Department of Defence did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the claims.

Though the Pentagon did not reveal the US plane’s mission when it was intercepted, some Chinese experts have said it was surveilling China’s nuclear submarines deployed at Hainan Island.

Rear admiral Yin Zhuo said the P-8’s mission was part of the US military’s longstanding efforts to surveil and track Chinese nuclear submarines in the vast and deep waters of the South China Sea, to which the armed vessels are particularly well-suited.

China reportedly deployed three Type 094 nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines at a naval base on Hainan Island this month, according to photos that circulated on Chinese military-enthusiast forums on the internet.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Dropping of sonobouys are not any type of provocation - it may be undesired but they are hostile or aggressive actions especially in international waters. Its what ASW aircraft around the world do - including China's.
According to the UN's Law of the Sea, of which China is a signatory, 12 nautical miles is a nation's sovereign territory, and may be extended to 24 nautical miles. Beyond that is International Waters and other nations' aircrafts and seacrafts can ply those waters unharmed and unmolested. Law of the Sea allows for 200 km economic exclusion zone for a nation to exploit the sea's natural resources but that's not sovereign territory. Where two or more nations' EEZ overlaps, a middle line is generally accepted as the dividing line. This is international practise accepted by all, including the US.
US may have dropped a listening buoy in international waters outside of China's sovereign territory but unfortunately, that's perfectly legal according to international law and not considered hostile. China does the same and so does Russia and most countries with that capability. Chinese military may have to learn to live with other militaries as the PLA begins to expand beyond its shores to international waters or airspace.
Flying dangerously and doing acrobatic somersaults within metres of another aircraft is very not professional and downright irresponsible. If the pilot crashes into another aircraft accidently or intentionally, one cannot be honoured as a "hero" but best remembered to be a fool who flew badly and killed himself.
The Chinese attitude and response was both undiplomatic and offensive, as this, according to international input confirms happened in international air space. However, it now gets to a situation where what is accepted as international air space and maritime zones, are no longer, as bullying China attempts to take control of all of the South China Sea as well as internationally seas around the Philippines and Vietnam. Dangerous times are on the horizon.
Submarines need to stay undetected. Dropping sonobuoys is equivalent to turning on a fire-control radar. It is only natural that the sub would respond in some way for self preservation. If we leave the Chinese alone, they will leave us alone.
Let's see how the USAF reacts if China started surveilling the east cost of the USA and dropping sonar buoys just outside Obama's front door. The duplicity of the US Government is just breathtaking. They try and force their broken idea of democracy down the throats of the rest of the world at the end of a barrel of a gun, and have incubated a Wahhabist resurgence that our Grandchildren will be still fighting if we don't act now to crush IS. I hate war. But I see not other short-term solution but to crush the Monster WE the west created. So, after so much death and destruction designed to bring democracy, all we have to look forward to is more death and destruction. We have allowed our corrupt and idiotic war criminal politicians to murder in our name. This must stop. Shame on Bush & Blair and all of those religious idiotic Crusaders. China is not the enemy. Russia is not the enemy. Soon the American government will wake up to the realisation that China, Russia, Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad are/were actually the peacemakers. Sometimes a brutal regime is in place for a reason - because they face far more brutal opposition. The Americans and British took the cork out of too many highly pressurised bottles and IS is what came exploding out. Well, I guess the world is looking for a uniting force; well now they have it: Wahhabism/IS.
It doesn't necessarily make it right that the US has been dropping sonobouys for " more than 60 years". You have bullied another countries for 60 years, but that doesn't mean they can't say no, especially for a rising power like China. Sorry, wake up, USA, you have learn to respect Chinese concerns, as your missions have damaged their interests.
Interesting that you brought out UNCLOS, FYI, US still has not ratified UNCLOS.
Also,China, a party to UNCLOS, rejects U.S. interpretations of the treaty's freedom of navigation provisions. China is not alone, Brazil, Malaysia, Peru and India also have resisted freedom of navigation within their EEZ.
Next month: China navy vessel fishes out sonar equipment; tries to duplicate technology; fails.
Interestingly that Ant, an insect that we simply step on and crush, indicated that China should invade Hong Kong. Isn't Hong Kong part of China? or am I dreaming? Ant, go back to your little sand hill and stay there the rain will wash you away.
These are long-standing "tail pulling" activities by US aircraft and submaines that serve no purpose other than to maintain unnecessary tensions between the two countries.



SCMP.com Account