F-18s’ emer­gency land­ing likely a US po­lit­i­cal mes­sage: re­port

The China Post - - LOCAL -

The emer­gency land­ing of two U.S.Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets in Tai­wan on Wed­nes­day ap­peared to have been a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage from the U.S. De­fense Depart­ment to Bei­jing fol­low­ing a re­cent Chi­nese bomber drill near the is­land na­tion that is a key ri­val to Bei­jing’s rule, ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Times news re­port, cit­ing an­a­lysts.

This may be a sim­ple “ac­ci­dent,” but one hopes the sym­bol­ism is not lost on Bei­jing, the an­a­lysts said in the news­pa­per re­port, dated April 1 Wash­ing­ton, D.C. time.

The Marine jet land­ings ap­peared to be the U.S. De­fense Depart­ment send­ing a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage to China, since the air­craft could have made an emer­gency land­ing at a less-con­tro­ver­sial lo­ca­tion such as the Ja­panese air­field on Shimoji Is­land, 193 kilo­me­ters east of Tai­wan, ac­cord­ing to mil­i­tary an­a­lyst Rick Fisher.

The news­pa­per also cited China’s of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency as say­ing that the bomber ex­er­cises, which ended Mon­day, were the first drills by China’s Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force in the “West Pa­cific.”

China state tele­vi­sion iden­ti­fied the air­craft as H-6K bombers — up­graded, Soviet-de­signed nu­clear ca­pa­ble bombers equipped with cruise mis­siles.

The pre­cise lo­ca­tion of the bomber flights was along the Bashi Chan­nel be­tween Tai­wan and Philip­pines ar­chi­pel­ago, it was re­ported.

How­ever, the re­port said, cit­ing Paul L. Green­berg, a Marine Corps spokesman, that the pi­lots who made the emer­gency land­ing fol­lowed stan­dard pro­ce­dure and safely put down the air­craft in the clos­est lo­ca­tion where the weather was con­ducive to land­ing.

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