Early this past September, a Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance flight over the South China Sea was harshly warned off by Chinese radio operators stationed on a fortified islet of Mischief Reef: “U.S. military aircraft, you have violated our China sovereignty and infringed on our security and our rights. You need to leave immediately!” The plane was traveling in international airspace at the time, but the Chinese operators repeated the warning eight times before the naval aircraft began its return to Okinawa.
The flights have continued at regular intervals. So have the warnings.
In October, the Chinese protested vehemently when the Pentagon sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait, signaling American resolve to maintain freedom of navigation in international waters—and to defend Taiwan’s independence from a regime in Beijing that claims that island as its own sovereign territory, and seems ever more ready to seize it by force.