China continues to double down on its dangerous intercept of an Australian maritime surveillance aircraft flying in international air space in the South China Sea. China’s Ministry of National Defence spokesman Senior Colonel Tan Kefei recently declared “it is completely unreasonable to send military planes to the door of others [and] those who come uninvited shall bear the consequences”. Notably, this threat was not about flying through “the door” but near to it. China claims a huge sweep of the South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line, and while found legally unsound by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, China remains fixated on trying to make its claim real.
China’s Australian aircraft intercept followed similar actions against Canadian maritime surveillance aircraft and last year’s Chinese large military air transport aircraft formation flight across the South China Sea to about 120 kilometres from East Malaysia. While within international law, the lack of prior advice to Malaysia that their Exclusive Economic Zone would be overflown by numerous military aircraft, and all without contacting regional air traffic control centres, raised flight safety concerns. Two Royal Malaysian Air Force Hawk aircraft were sent to intercept.
Please click here to read the full “Answering China’s South China Sea flying safety challenge” article published at The Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.