Commentary

The US Should Stop Sending Surveillance Aircraft to China’s Doorstep

Dinging Chen 2014 Us Should Stop Sending Surveillance Aircraft To Chinas Doorstep

Source: See-ming Lee /​Flickr

29 Aug 2014, 
published in 
The Diplomat

The recent quarrel between China and the US over the narrowly avoided midair incident between a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet has again put China-US relations under pressure. Most commentaries focus on the seeming danger of the Chinese fighter jet intercepting the US spy plane. While it is correct to emphasize the potential danger of a possible collision between the two aircraft, we should not neglect the root cause of this near collision. The question of whether the Chinese fighter jet was dangerously close to the US spy plane is a minor one. Rather, the key questions are: why was the US spy plane near China’s Hainan island in the first place? What were the intentions of the U.S. spy plane? Was it there for peaceful purposes? Does freedom of navigation mean that you can harm other’s national security? Many scholars and pundits have offered three possible justifications for US activities near Hainan, but a closer analysis reveals that none of them is a reasonable defense of US actions.

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