Is this the beginning of an attempted face-saving de-escalation of tensions in the area, or is it a ChiComm ultimatum?:
Beijing demanded an end to U.S. surveillance near [Red] China on Thursday after two of its fighter jets carried out what the [Obam]agon said was an "unsafe" intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea....
"It must be pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in [Red] Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering [Red] Chinese maritime security," [Red] China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Hong told reporters.
How does carrying out reconnaissance of ChiComm coastal waters "seriously endanger" their maritime security? They can't possibly fear American amphibious landings on their coast. Are they hiding something?
"We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again," Hong said.
Translation: Next time we shoot down your recon aircraft.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, he described the [Obam]agon statement as "not true" and said the actions of the [Red] Chinese aircraft were "completely in keeping with safety and professional standards."
"They maintained safe behavior and did not engage in any dangerous action," Hong said.
Yet they're using that "safe and professional" encounter as a threat against further U.S. reconnaissance of a particular area of their coast. Which suggests that the Obamagon description of it is correct, AND that those recon flights should be given fighter escorts to deter any further "safe and professional" ChiComm buzzings. We'll see if the Regime takes that next logical and proportional step.
But what is it we're monitoring or looking for? It appears to be centered on Hainan Island, and it is definitely worthy of surveillance:
The encounter took place in international airspace about one hundred nautical miles south of mainland China and about fifty nautical miles east of Hainan island, a [Obam]agon spokesman said in a statement issued later on Thursday.
Regional military attaches and experts say the southern [Red] Chinese coast is a military area of increasing sensitivity for Beijing.
Its submarine bases on Hainan are home to an expanding fleet of nuclear-armed submarines and a big target for on-going Western surveillance operations.
The Guangdong coast is also believed to be home to some of [Red] China's most advanced missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship weapon. [emphasis added]
The one that can sink a U.S. fleet aircraft carrier in one shot.
It sounds as if Beijing's annexation of the South China Sea has an additional purpose beyond territorial expansion. It's also a series of forward bases to protect the staging area for a huge military buildup that is a threat to all of Southeast Asia - and perhaps a lure designed to reprise the Pearl Harbor attack by drawing the U.S. Pacific Fleet, in some form and to some degree, to them.
This confrontation is definitely building to some manner of climax. For which "the Guns of August" is an apt metaphor, indeed.