China will shoot down US drones over its territory: state media
Beijing, Sep 29 (efe-epa).- Chinese state media said Tuesday that Beijing will not hesitate to shoot down American drones flying over territories claimed by the Asian country, such as the disputed Spratly Islands, in response to recent military exercises by the United States involving MQ-9 Reaper drones.
In an editorial on Tuesday, the Global Times – which is under the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party – says that the “MQ-9 Reaper drone was participating in maritime exercises with strike coordination,” adding that this was the “air force’s first drone tactical training exercise in the Pacific Ocean.”
On Thursday, the US’ Air Force Magazine reported that the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles were training for “maritime war” with “an eye on China” and that three of the drones took part in a mock amphibious assault on American soil.
The MQ-9 Reapers, an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset, are “adapting its tactics and training to prove useful in a theater of war that looks much different from its typical surroundings,” the magazine said.
The Global Times says that the drones “have been involved in assassination and other attacks around the world” and adds that “particularly eye-catching is that the photo published in magazine shows that the patches on related airmen’s uniforms feature an MQ-9 superimposed over a red silhouette in the shape of a map of China.”
“According to reports, the last time the US Air Force put a country on the patch was during the Vietnam War,” it says.
The Chinese media describes the exercise as a move “to further stir hostilities between Chinese and American societies and an extortion against China” and “mobilize public opinion.”
“China will shoot down incoming US warplanes, no matter they are unmanned or manned,” the media warns.
A drone attack by the US on the disputed Nansha Islands (as the Spratly archipelago is known in China) would be viewed as an “act of war,” the Global Times says.
“To China, that is an invasion and an aggression of war. Our only option is to strike hard at the aggressors and teach them a lesson they will never forget,” it warns. “If those planes cause actual damage to Chinese islands and reefs, we will strike the platforms and bases from which those planes take off.”
On Sunday, Washington accused China of going back on its word and continuing to pursue “a reckless and provocative militarization” in the South China Sea.
For years, China has been locked in a dispute with other Asian countries over the sovereignty of various islands in the region, especially the archipelagos of the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.
Tensions in the area have escalated in recent years amid construction activities and deployment of missiles on several of the disputed islands by Beijing and the deployment of warplanes and warships by the US to the surrounding waters, with each country accusing the other of militarizing the area.
On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the constructions are “aimed to meet the civilian need in the South China Sea, provide more public goods and services to the region and beyond, and fulfill our international responsibilities and obligations.”
“Deployment of necessary defense facilities on the Nansha Islands is an exercise of China’s right to self-preservation and self-defense under international law. It is reasonable, legal and within our sovereignty,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
“By bringing up ‘militarization’ now and then, the US is in fact making pretexts for strengthening its own military deployment and activities to pursue maritime hegemony in the South China Sea,” he added.
The Asian country has continued to conduct military exercises in the region in recent months and several military drills began off the coast of China on Monday, the China Maritime Safety Administration reported. EFE-EPA