The U.S. scoured the skies after learning of a Chinese spy balloon
Review of US Navy Interactions with China and Implications for the Safety of the Air Force and Space Forces, with an Application to the Australian Air Force
Three Defense officials said last week that Milley ordered a thorough review of US military interactions with China over the last five years as concerns about Beijing’s aggressiveness in the region increased.
The number of Chinese intercepts in the air and in the sea have increased significantly over the last five years, according to Milley.
Nancy Pelosi is poised to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory, which comes as Biden administration tries to counter China as a key strategic priority.
There are security risks associated with a potential trip by Pelosi and other lawmakers, according to President Joe Biden. The Pentagon has not confirmed if officials have briefed the Californian Democrat, but they are concerned about China establishing a no-fly zone, as well as unsafe intercepts of US and allied ships and aircraft.
By launching the review, Milley is hoping to gain a clear understanding of any interactions between the two armies that could be deemed unsafe due to Chinese aircraft or ships operating too close to US military assets.
In one of the most serious recent incidents, the Australian government said in February that a Chinese warship allegedly used a laser to “illuminate” an Australian Air Force jet in what Canberra called a “serious safety incident.”
The Australian Defence Force said in a statement back then that it condemns the “unprofessional and unsafe military conduct.” Pilots targeted by laser attacks in the past have reported disorienting flashes, pain, spasms and spots in their vision and even temporary blindness.
State-of-the-Art Defense Modernization of Taiwan: Towards a Free, Open and Stable Indo-Pacific Region from the First Day of G20 in Indonesia
In a keynote speech, Austin said “indo-Pacific countries shouldn’t faced political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment by maritime militias.”
The national defense of China aims to fulfill its rightful security needs as well as contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces according to the country’s white paper. China will neverseek any sphere of influence or threaten another country.
Conflicting island and maritime claims in the South China Sea can well extend into the skies, as what China defines as its airspace above the islands and waters it claims as its own may not be recognized by other countries, such as the United States.
Since then, Beijing has stepped up aggressive military pressure tactics on the island, sending fighter jets across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan and China and into the island’s air defense identification zone – a buffer of airspace commonly referred to as an ADIZ.
The flights, part of a so-called “strike drill” according to China’s military, follow Naval exercises by a Chinese aircraft carrier group in the Western Pacific close to Japan on Friday.
Taiwan is seen as part of China even though it has never been a part of the country. It has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden signed a sweeping new defense bill into law that included the establishment of a defense modernization program for Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression.
The cooperation between Taiwan and the US will help safeguard an open, stable and free Indo-Pacific region. The military will continue to strengthen military preparedness based on enemy threats and self-defense needs,” it added.
In November, Biden met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in-person for the first time during his presidency at the G20 summit in Indonesia. Biden cast doubt on an imminent invasion of Taiwan after the meeting, but described it as open and candid.
Formal bilateral talks on climate cooperation are expected to resume as well as part of a broader set of agreements between Biden and Xi – with China having previously halted talks as part of retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The Defense Department of Okinotorishima, the East China Sea, and the U.S.-China Indo-Pacific Joint Force
Last Friday, China also conducted a series of military drills close to Japan’s southern Okinawa island in the Pacific Ocean, according to Japanese authorities.
The Chinese navy sailed its aircraft carrier and two destroyers off of the east coast of Japan on December 21, according to the Joint Staff. There were vessels that left Okinotorishima on December 22nd and traveled approximately 120 kilometers east.
Japan’s defense ministry said that 180 carrier-based fighter jets and helicopter took off and landed on the Liaoning aircraft carrier.
The ministry of defense and self-defense forces in Japan dispatched two escort ships to collect information and carry out warning and patrol.
There have been tensions between China and Japan, with Beijing increasing its naval and air forces in the area. China also claims the Senkaku Islands, a chain in the East China Sea.
In order to adapt to threats from Russia, China and North Korea, the Japanese government unveiled a new national security plan that signals the country’s biggest military build-up since World War II.
BEIJING — The U.S. military says a Chinese navy fighter jet flew dangerously close to an Air Force reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea earlier this month, forcing the American pilot to maneuver to avoid a collision.
It released a video of the incident showing the Chinese fighter flying to the left of and slightly above the four-engine US jet, similar to the Boeing 707 airliners of the 1960s and ’70s, and then gradually closing closer to its nose before moving away.
The majority of aircraft interactions, including those between the US and China, are conducted in a safe and professional manner, the official said. When an incident is deemed to be unsafe, the US uses diplomatic and military channels to communicate with Beijing.
“The U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force is dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law,” the statement said.
Both the US and China have accused each other of doing extensive aerial spying, which has resulted in a new distrust between the two countries.
Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country’s rise and how it impacts the world. You can sign up here.
The 135 had no reason to get close to the US plane, a CNN spokeswoman told cNN’s XMM-Newton
CNN spoke to aviation experts who said that the Chinese jet appeared to be in the wrong place and had no reason to get close to the American plane.
“The 135 is an unarmed aircraft. Why does the PLAN believe it necessary to intercept missiles when the goal is to see the aircraft? Doing this is potentially dangerous and could lead to a major and tragic incident,” Layton said.
The intention of the intercept was to identify the aircraft, and the fighter could have stayed a long time away and competed that task. Getting closer does not bring gains, he said.
“The (Chinese) response is so far divorced from reality that it is fictional. An airliner-sized plane does not turn into a fighter plane.
But Hopkins also said the US military risked blowing the incident out of proportion in saying the US jet had to take “evasive maneuvers,” a term he described as “overly dramatic.”
The driver adjusting her position to avoid a temporary lane incursion is the same as this. The US response is pure theater and creates an exaggerated sense of danger.
A defense policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute said that flying aircraft close to each other at 500 miles per hour is unsafe.
The 2001 South China Sea Jet Collision by a Chinese Airlines Flight is the Latest in a string of U.S. provocations
“It’s worth remembering that the PLA has effectively wrecked any kind of hotlines or discussion forums for addressing potential incidents with the United States. If an intercept does go wrong, there are fewer options than ever for senior officers to limit potential escalation,” he said.
But in a regular press briefing on Friday, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the incident was just the latest in a string of US provocations that threaten stability in the region.
The Chinese Southern Theater Command said that the US plane was flying near China’s southern coastline and the Paracel Islands, where Beijing has built up military installations.
In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet crashed with a US plane near the South China Sea, killing the American pilot and causing a major crisis as the US plane had to make an emergency landing on Chinese territory. After 11 days of negotiations the US crew was released.
The elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis and program oversight throughout the intelligence community were handled by Beth Sanner, who was a former deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration. In this role she also served as the president’s intelligence briefer. She is a professor-of-practice at the Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security at the University of Maryland and a CNN national security analyst. She made her own opinions in this commentary. CNN has more opinion on it.
The United States Embedded in the South China Sea: Who Will Be the Toughest on China? A Response to the 2016 South Carolina Spyball Event
The United States shot down the spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina after China accused it of violating international practice. This occurred after it had been loitering over the US for more than four days last week. My reaction to this indignation? Poppycock!
In late 2016, the Chinese seized an unmanned US Navy underwater vehicle in international waters in the South China Sea, just 50 nautical miles from Subic Bay in the Philippines, and hundreds of miles from China. (Subic Bay was home to the largest US naval base in Asia until disagreements over leasing costs led to a withdrawal in 1992; ironically, US sailors might soon return to the base following Manila’s recent decision to allow a greater, albeit rotational, US military presence in the Philippines as a counter to Chinese aggression.) A message to President-elect Donald Trump, who angered Beijing by taking a call from the president of Taiwan, was believed to have been conveyed by the incident. Beijing agreed to return it three days later, but never apologized and accused the US of espionage.
If China downed the US craft, they would place both blame and liability on the US. There would have been protests in front of the US Embassy in China.
My first reaction to the Chinese balloon when it was identified floating over Montana was probably the same as yours: “Shoot it down, already!” In my decades as a senior intelligence official, I focused on facts, not the outrage, and provided a measured, clear-headed assessment of the intelligence community. In meetings probably held in the White House Situation Room multiple times over the past week, a senior intelligence official would have joined the US military, level-setting the discussion in this vein. The decision to shoot down the balloon was made due to the low risk that a large debris field would pose in shallow US waters.
You can already hear the war drums beating if you listen closely, and I want the hyperbole to reach new heights as we move closer to the 2020 election, which is where I am interested in: who will be the toughest on China? Not letting China-bashing become a brand of McCarthyism would be a mistake since the US has already seen a rise in anti-Asian rhetoric.
Instead, let’s come up with a more strategic, measured plan to hold China accountable, but also allow room for needed dialogue. If we follow Beijing’s lead, it will be a race to the bottom, making it hard to avoid military conflict with China.
First Airborne Engagement of a High-Altitude Object in the First 24 Hours of the Cold War, and the First Attempt to Get Closer to It
The President told CNN that the shoot down of a high-altitude object in the Alaska sky was a success, and that the US military had given the go-ahead.
Three unidentified objects have flown above the U.S. and Canada since Friday. American officials have not disclosed what kinds of objects they were or who sent them.
“The Department of Defense was tracking a high-altitude object over Alaska airspace in the last 24 hours,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby announced to the press on Friday.
The high-altitude object, Kirby said during a White House press briefing, was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”
There were two efforts to get closer to the object and evaluate it as it flew. The first engagement by fighter aircraft took place late Thursday night and the second Friday morning. Kirby told reporters that both engagements yielded limited information.
“We were able to get some fighter aircrafts up and around it before the order to shoot it down, and the pilots assessment was this was not manned,” Kirby added.
At the recommendation of the Pentagon, Biden ordered the military to down the object. The object came inside territorial airspace and was brought down by fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command. It went down over frozen Arctic Ocean waters near the Canadian border and northeastern Alaska. The US expects to recover the debris.
US Northern Command’s Alaska Command coordinated the operation with assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard, Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ryder said.
Why the US Spy Balloons Arrived in Deadhorse, Alaska, and was Detected by President Joe Biden
The best description we have at the moment is what we are calling this object. Kirby said they don’t know who owns it, whether it is state-owned or corporate-owned.
The US government was first to notice the object. Kirby said Biden was first briefed by the Pentagon on Thursday night.
Kirby said that the object appeared to be at the mercy of prevailing winds and made it much less predictable.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction Friday in the area around Deadhorse, Alaska, as the military took action against the object.
The balloon’s appearance earlier this month caused the US to shoot down other unknown objects in the sky and sparked criticism of President Joe Biden because he did not act quickly enough or provide enough transparency.
While the president has stood by how he and his administration handled that balloon, he has faced criticism from Republicans for allowing the suspected spy balloon to float over much of the country before shooting it down.
However, a senior State Department official said the US believes the balloon was part of a “PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations” and that these activities are “often undertaken at the direction of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).” The official added that China has “overflown these surveillance balloons over more than 40 countries across five continents” – without providing more detail.
CNN is reporting that the assessment has been communicated to American lawmakers in briefings, which could point out a lack of coordination between the Chinese and US systems.
Observers of the elite Chinese politics aren’t sure if the President would have known about a balloon that would be dispatched to the US and could affect US-China relations.
China did not provide any details of the alleged incursions of US balloons into its airspace – when and where they occurred, or whether it responded in any way at the time.
Beijing, in a statement last weekend, appeared to link the device to “companies,” rather than the government or military – though in China the prominence of state-owned enterprises and a robust military-industrial complex blurs the line between the two.
Drew Thompson, a Singapore-based analyst, says that the situation could have gotten worse if it hadn’t been for the high level of control wielded by the leader of the Communist Party, Jiang Zemin.
That means that lower-level officials who may have the capacity to more closely monitor such missions may not be empowered to do so, or not be equipped to make political judgments about their impact, he said. Power struggles between lower and higher ranking officials could also complicate communication, he said.
“There is a tension throughout the Chinese system – it’s a feature of Chinese governance, where lower levels fight for their own autonomy, and upper levels fight for greater control,” he said.
There were previous crises in China, including the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002-2003 and Covid-19, where delays in reporting were seen as slowing the response and compounding the problem. Some blamed local officials who were accustomed to a system where information was spread from the top down and not the bottom up.
A political scientist at the University of Chicago stated that balloon launches can fall into a gap in which operations were not managed by the same way as space or other aircraft missions.
In this case, entities launching balloons may have received “little or no push back from other countries, including the United States” and “increasingly seen such launches as routine based on weather conditions and at modest costs,” Yang said.
“As a result, while the leaders of these programs have also become emboldened over time to test new routes, it was likely that they didn’t get top priority attention from the perspective of political risk,” he said.
Beijing’s airspace as a tit-for-tat against the other countries: Xi Jinping, the military expert and an expert on the Spratlys
The associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said that he wants 100% control because of his personality. “I don’t think Xi Jinping allows for that kind of autonomy.”
The incident that diverted the attention of the public may have been a sign of how displeased the public was with the economy after years of the zero- Covid policy.
Meanwhile, Washington may be offering its message that Xi wasn’t aware of the situation as it seeks to “continue the dialogue” started during a meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in Bali, according to Wu.
“‘Everybody spies’ is a poorly considered trope that does not justify China’s intrusion in other countries’ airspace. He said that countries conduct activities like intelligence gathering, just as they do international law and the Law of the Sea.
While China’s increasingly hardline stance plays to its domestic audience, it’s also served to expose the inconsistencies and inherent contradictions in Beijing’s messaging – severely damaging its credibility, analysts say.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, described China’s claims as “a sort of one-upmanship tit-for-tat against Washington’s accusations.”
“It appears more like Beijing is trying to also portray itself as a victim of US surveillance, instead of being painted over the past week as an aggressor,” he said.
Drew Thompson, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, called China’s latest tactic “a large case of what-aboutism.”
“And it’s been quite contradictory. And it’s largely directed towards the domestic audience, which is why I think it lacks credibility with the other countries.”
The definition of national airspace is complicated by both territorial disputes as well as the fact that the upper limit of the airspace is not completely settled under international law.
In practice, Beijing does not draw distinction between national airspace and international airspace, according to the military expert in Singapore.
“In recent years, the Chinese military has also been challenging foreign military aerial activities over the Spratlys, including those run by the Filipinos when they flew close to the Chinese-occupied outposts,” he said.
China has also undertaken significant land reclamation and built at least seven artificial islands in the South China Sea. An artificial island does not give any airspace sovereignty according to international law.
U.S. military recovery of an unidentified aerial object shot down by a “spyball” jet airliner over the South Carolina coast
The maximum height that commercial and military aircraft can operate at is generally extended in practice. Concorde, a retired Franco-British supersonic airliner, operated at 60,000 feet (18,300 meters), setting a precedent for how high national airspace may extend to, he said.
News of the intrusive Chinese balloon touched off alerts in the U.S. and beyond. When the Pentagon said last week that a similar high-altitude balloon had been identified over Latin America, China responded by saying it was another research balloon that was badly off-course, deeming it “an unexpected, isolated incident caused by force majeure,” meaning events beyond the country’s control.
Crews using salvage equipment successfully have retrieved important elements of the Chinese balloon that was shot down off the South Carolina coast 10 days ago, the U.S. military says.
The crew has been able to recover significant debris from the site including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces.
A crane was used in the recovery operation to haul up the large pieces of the giant balloon.
The payload’s size has been categorized by Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD, as “a jet airliner type of size, maybe a regional jet,” weighing more than 2,000 pounds.
The U.S. has dismissed that explanation emphatically — most notably by blowing the balloon out of the sky on Feb. 4, after it had soared over much of the continental U.S.
Even before that shootdown, analysts urged the Biden administration not to allow the craft to return to China — both to limit the data it might convey, and to allow the U.S. to gain its own insights by recovering the equipment.
All of those objects have been described as smaller than the reputed spy balloon that triggered the initial uproar in early February. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Monday that recovery operations for those objects have been ongoing, but nothing has been recovered yet.
Kirby said on Tuesday that the National Security Council will give new guidance about how the U.S. will handle cases of unidentified aerial objects objects in the future.
Feb. 14: The military claims to have recovered key pieces of the downed balloon. Members of both parties left a classified meeting with the Senate after they were assured that the objects shot down by U.S. jets in recent days would not pose an immediate threat to Americans. Some people would like Biden administration officials to give more information to the public.
A trade war, semiconductors, human rights: in recent years, the U.S.-China relationship has been rocked by successive geopolitical crises that have strained the dynamic between two of the world’s most powerful countries.
Beijing’s apology comes less than 24 hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled travel to Beijing to meet China’s top leader, Xi Jinping. Washington cancels the much-anticipated trip. China said no such trip had been announced.
The US briefs 40 countries on the Chinese balloon shoot down. Both houses of Congress receive classified briefings on the incident. The House passes a unanimous resolution condemning China’s alleged surveillance of the U.S.
The press secretary for the White House tells Americans that there is no indication of alien or extraterrestrial activity.
Emily, Lexie Schapitl, and Once more on Emily’s travels” to Washington, D.C.
Emily was in Taipei. Lexie Schapitl reported from Washington, D.C. The report was from Washington, D.C.