Saturday, April 16, 2016

Do the Sino-American Aerial Engagement Rules Undermine International Law?

As part of the September 2015 fanfare visit by Xi Xinping to the United States, the United States and China signed an arrangement on rules of behavior for safety of air-to-air encounters of military aircraft. The deal is supposed to avert aviation incidents in international airspace between military aircraft of the United States and China. In a deadly 2001 incident, for example, a Chinese F-8 fighter jet interceptor collided with a U.S. EP-3 aircraft that was operating more than 75 miles from Hainan Island, causing the loss of the Chinese aircraft and pilot, and an emergency landing in China by the U.S. surveillance aircraft. Similarly, in August 2014, a Chinese fighter jet roared over, under, and in front of a U.S. P-8 maritime patrol aircraft – coming as close as 50 feet to the American aircraft – about 135 miles east of Hainan Island. The Chinese jet climbed vertically with its underbelly showing in front of the U.S. aircraft to display its under wing combat load out.

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