A US Lockheed P-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft yesterday flew over the Bashi Channel toward the South China Sea, marking the 12th time this month that a US military aircraft was spotted to the south of Taiwan’s airspace.
The airplane’s presence was reported by military aviation monitoring Web site Aircraft Spots.
The same aircraft on Saturday last week flew in a similar southwesterly direction over the channel, the Web site said.
The US has used Boeing RC-135U and RC-135W, as well as Lockheed EP-3E and P-3C reconnaissance aircraft, in its flybys this month.
RC-135U aircraft were sighted on April 8 and 10, while EP-3E aircraft were sighted on April 11 and 12.
An RC-135W was sighted on Monday last week along with a P-3C Orion, while another P-3C Orion was spotted on Tuesday last week.
RC-135W aircraft were sighted on Wednesday and Friday last week, a P-3C on Saturday last week and an EP-3E on Tuesday.
Yesterday’s flyby followed the passage of the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday.
The Barry had transited the Strait on April 10, also from the north to south, according to the Ministry of National Defense and the US Seventh Fleet.
The ministry also said that it had been monitoring the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, which on Wednesday transited eastward through the Bashi Strait to the south of Taiwan after conducting training exercises in the South China Sea.
Separately on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reasserted Taiwan’s sovereignty over South China Sea islands and called on neighboring countries to exercise restraint, as China boosts its administrative and military establishment in the disputed area.
China on Saturday last week announced the establishment of Xisha and Nansha districts as part of Sansha City, Hainan Province.
The two districts would exercise jurisdiction over the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島), the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) and their surrounding waters, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
The Chinese ministry the next day released guidelines over standard nomenclature and coordinates of 25 islets and reefs, as well as 55 undersea geographical features in the South China Sea.
Vietnam on Monday protested China’s establishment of the districts, while reaffirming its own sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos.
The foreign ministry in a news release on Friday expressed its concern over some countries’ unilateral and arbitrary claims over the area, as well as related actions.
It is beyond dispute that Taiwan is entitled to all rights over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters in accordance with international law and the law of the sea, it said.
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