In response to Joe Biden’s threats of aiding Taiwan, should China decide now is the time for an invasion, two Chinese and seven Russian warplanes nearly invaded South Korean airspace on Friday. Soul confirmed that they scrambled fighter jets of their own, in response.
China and Russia just teased our ally
So what? China scoffs. It was only “regular training.” Diplomatically, this incident sends an entirely different message. It says that if His Wisdom Joe Biden wants to tangle with Pooh Bear, the Kremlin has his honey jar covered.
According to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, nine “aircraft entered the northeastern part of the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone for an unspecified period before exiting.” They stumbled into South Korea’s warning zone but didn’t cross any really important lines. The overflight “did not violate its airspace.” This time.
Our NATO ally quickly “dispatched fighter jets and air refueling tankers as a usual step to brace for a potential contingency.” It may look like a training exercise when it’s really an ambush.
When the officials started screaming bloody murder, a spokesperson for the Chinese military claimed “its planes were carrying out routine drills.” South Korea notes China could be telling the truth but “additional analysis is needed.”
This isn’t the first time that planes belonging to China or Russia entered the zone, a situation which is complicated by “conflicting claims over various Air Defence Identification Zones.” They’re a sort of buffer zone where countries challenge incoming flights, insisting on “special steps to identify themselves.”
There aren’t any international laws on the subject though, so things get fuzzy. Moscow refuses to recognize South Korea’s buffer at all, while Beijing said “the area is not territorial airspace and all countries should enjoy freedom of movement there.”
Two Chinese and seven Russian military aircraft entered air defense identification zone of northeastern SouthKorea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, none of them violated South Korea's territorial air.
SouthKorea's military scrambled fighter jets and air refuelling tankers pic.twitter.com/Bt2wsTDCuO
— Eva 郑 عائشة (@evazhengll) November 19, 2021
Joe Gives Xi ‘heartburn’
The real issue, pundits say, stems from the recent summit meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. “I think it would be fair to say at the virtual meeting, President Xi made very clear that a number of things that the United States is doing cause China some heartburn,” National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell related on Friday, November 19.
That’s putting it mildly. Our alliance with South Korea and other countries, especially Taiwan, has Xi’s hair on fire.
There are other issues too, including “reinforcing and revitalizing our bilateral security alliances with Japan, with South Korea, with Australia, the Philippines and Thailand.” Xi Jinping wants control of the Indo-Pacific region.
According to South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, “the ongoing rivalry” between Joe and Xi “places South Korea in a difficult situation.” He’s afraid of a trade war. South Korea’s trade volume with China is “larger than our trade volume with the United States and Japan put together,” he points out.
A couple of years ago, a similar incident happened. In July of 2019, “two Chinese H-6 bombers and two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers crossed into Seoul’s Air Defense Identification Zone.” That time, “South Korean jets fired hundreds of warning shots at them.”
China might have been testing to see if Biden’s NATO would hop to it as quick as when Trump was insisting they earn their keep, since we pay the lion’s share of NATO’s bills.