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‘Go away,’ China tells US spy plane in West PH Sea — report

/ 02:07 PM May 21, 2015
This combination photo of satellite images taken on Feb. 6, 2015, top, and March 23, 2015, bottom, by Airbus Defence and Space, and distributed by IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, shows what IHS Jane's describes as an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef in a disputed section of the  South  China  Sea. AP

This combination photo of satellite images taken on Feb. 6, 2015, top, and March 23, 2015, bottom, by Airbus Defense and Space, and distributed by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, shows what IHS Jane’s describes as an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef in a disputed section of the South China Sea. AP FILE PHOTO

The Chinese Navy warned a US surveillance plane flying over the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on Wednesday, CNN reported.

“Foreign military aircraft, this is the Chinese Navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately…You go!” a Chinese radio operator told the aircraft, where a CNN team was also on board.

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The US used a P8-A Poseidon, their most advanced surveillance and submarine-hunting aircraft, which flew at 15,000 feet, its lowest point.

It was the first time the Pentagon had allowed to show a video of China’s building activities and the Chinese Navy’s warning to a US plane, CNN said.

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The surveillance plane appeared to have taken off from Clark Air Base in Pampanga based on the video shown by CNN. Jim Sciutto, the CNN senior correspondent who joined the mission, also went live on air in Manila.

During the mission, which aimed at monitoring Chinese activities, the US military pilots were ordered out of the airspace eight times.

“We were just challenged 30 minutes ago and the challenge came from the Chinese navy, and I’m highly confident it came from ashore, this facility here,” Capt. Mike Parker, commander of P8 and P3 surveillance aircraft deployed to Asia, told CNN of the Chinese message for the US plane, as he pointed to an early warning radar station on Fiery Cross Reef.

Aside from the early warning station, Fiery Cross Reef now has military barracks, a lookout tower and a long runway, CNN said based on a video filmed by the P8’s surveillance cameras.

“There’s obviously a lot of surface traffic down there: Chinese warships, Chinese coast guard ships. They have air search radars, so there’s a pretty good bet they’re tracking us,” Lt. Cmdr Matt Newman told CNN from the cockpit.

The CNN report said the Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) that “fleets of dozens of dredgers could be seen hard at work, sucking sand off the bottom of the sea and blowing it in huge plumes to create new land above the surface.”

Panganiban Reef is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines has also experienced warnings from China in its air patrols over the West Philippine Sea recently.

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READ: China’s mischief: Expansion, reclamation / New images show progress of Chinese reclamation in Panganiban Reef

China claims most parts of the resource-rich West Philippine Sea, which is also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Satellite images released in recent months suggest significant progress in China’s reclamation efforts, as it converts reefs into artificial islands.

The Philippines has filed its arbitration case to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over China’s maritime claims. TVJ

RELATED STORIES
China building runway in disputed South China Sea—source
China’s reclamation to have repercussions – AFP

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TAGS: Chinese Navy, CNN, P8-A Poseidon, South China Sea, US Spy Plane, West Philippine Sea
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