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China has conducted a jaw-dropping 180 intercepts against U.S. aircraft since the fall of 2021, according to the recently released Pentagon’s 2023 annual report on Chinese military power.
To protect the lives of U.S. service personnel and reaffirm their right to operate in international airspace, President Biden must confront President Xi on this issue during their tête-à-tête Wednesday on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Fransisco.
These incidents are not isolated high jinks by maverick Chinese pilots. Far from it. The People’s Liberation Army operates under the tight leash of the Chinese Communist Party. This behavior is part of a larger political-military effort to intimidate the United States and its allies from operating in the Western Pacific.
A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location, in an undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense. (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)
China’s aerial intercepts are notable not just for their frequency, but also their hair-raising nature. Late last month, a Chinese jet fighter buzzed within 10 feet of one of our B-52 bombers flying in international airspace over the South China Seas.