Wall Street Journal: Chinese, Russian Warplanes Test U.S. Patience in Skies Near South Korea
‘China and Russia are trying to poke holes in the U.S.-Japan-South Korea security system,’ ex-official says
SEOUL—Chinese and Russian warplanes have increasingly nosed around and veered into South Korea’s airspace, conducting close patrols that allow Beijing and Moscow to test the air defenses of the U.S. and its allies in the region.
The aerial campaigns come as Beijing vows to strengthen its military alliance with Moscow, heightening tensions across the Asia-Pacific region as the U.S. and China jockey for power there.
The Korean Peninsula is once again providing a convenient stage for military provocations, as it did during the Cold War.
The Chinese and Russian jets fly near the coastlines of South Korea, a key Washington ally that hosts the largest U.S. overseas military base as well as a U.S. missile-defense system that has drawn Beijing’s ire. While many of the air maneuvers don’t violate international law, according to Seoul’s military, they challenge Washington’s patience.
It was much less common for Beijing or Moscow to conduct such flights earlier this decade, South Korean officials say, adding the uptick that began in recent years appears to reflect a marked policy change for both countries.
The flights around Korea hit an inflection point last month when a Russian command-and-control plane—flying with Chinese nuclear-capable bombers—darted into South Korean airspace, which by international convention extends 12 nautical miles beyond a country’s coastline. Seoul responded by deploying 18 jet fighters and firing hundreds of machine-gun rounds.
Until the incident last month, the warplanes’ forays hadn’t pierced South Korea-claimed territory. But they have breached South Korea’s self-designated air-defense zone, which extends scores of miles further into the surrounding waters.
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WNU Editor: The timing for these Chinese-Russian probes is perfect. There are currently many problems in the South Korean-Japanese relationship …. Is The Military-Intelligence Pact Between US, South Korea And Japan At Risk Of Collapsing? (August 11, 2019).
One observation about the above article. The above WSJ article is claiming that Chinese and Russian warplanes are increasingly nosing around and veering into South Korea’s airspace. But according to the above graphs, these patrols have decreased in 2019.