Chinese Pilots Provoke U.S. Allies
According to latest media reports, Australia and Canada say Chinese military jets have harassed their planes in recent weeks, sometimes flying so close that the pilots could see each other.
On the other hand, Beijing says the maneuvers are reasonable responses to foreign military patrols that threaten its security. But the two U.S. allies worry the pilots’ actions could lead to midair collisions.
Any such mishap in the Asia Pacific could ignite an international incident at a time when tensions are rising between China and the West.
In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. Navy surveillance plane, leading to tense negotiations and an apology from the U.S. Beijing has honored the fallen pilot, Wang Wei, whose confrontational way of flying is held up as a model for new Chinese pilots to emulate, an expert said.
The Chinese pilots have repeatedly buzzed a Canadian plane monitoring North Korea in recent weeks, and one plane sprayed metallic chaff in the path of an Australian surveillance aircraft.