Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

US military should stop spy strategy

By Wang Hui ( Updated: 2014-09-03 09:49

The "close encounter" between a Chinese navy fighter jet and a US Navy reconnaissance plane in China's airspace on Aug 19 and the war of words between the two militaries that followed might have prompted some in the world arena to think that tension is building up in China-US military ties.

While the United States labeled the incident as "a dangerous Chinese intercept" and "Chinese provocation", the Ministry of National Defense insisted it was "US close-in reconnaissance"; the difference in language showing how big the divide is between the two militaries.

In fact, the location of the dangerous encounter, which happened in the airspace about 220 kilometers east of China's Hainan Island speaks for itself. The US accusation does not hold water: Its act of sending spy planes into the airspace over China's exclusive economic zone is 100 percent espionage.

Hence, it is the US that has performed a dangerous move and it is the US that made the provocation. By pointing an accusing finger at China, the intention of Washington is to shirk its responsibility for the incident and divert attention from the real issue behind it.

Even Washington cannot deny that the incident and others like it would not have happened if it did not conduct reconnaissance in the waters and airspace of China's exclusive economic zones.

As China's defense ministry has rightfully pointed it out, the US' large-scale, frequent and close reconnaissance against China is the real source of air safety concerns and possible accidents. It is then crystal clear that the only way for both militaries to avoid being involved in such dangerous encounters lies in the US ending its spying on China.

Yet, it seems Washington is nowhere near to changing its Peeping Tom habit. When asked whether the US will continue to conduct those reconnaissance flights during a press briefing on Aug 26, John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said "we're going to continue to fly in international airspace the way we've been".

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