U.S. Bomber Mistakenly Flew Near Disputed Island in South China Sea
Beijing files diplomatic protest over the B-52 flight; Pentagon claims route was unintentional
By HELENE COOPER and MICHAEL FORSYTHE for NY TIMES:
A United States B-52 bomber last week mistakenly flew within two nautical miles of a disputed artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, Pentagon officials said Friday.
The incident, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, drew the ire of the Chinese, who claim that the chain, called the Spratly Islands, is within China’s territorial borders. That claim is disputed by China’s neighbors and by the United States.
“The Chinese have raised concerns with us about the flight path of a recent B-52 training mission,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday. “We are looking into the incident.”
On Saturday, China’s Defense Ministry issued an angry response to the flight, which it said occurred on Dec. 10 and involved two bombers.
“What the United States did was a serious military provocation, complicating the situation in the South China Sea, to the extent of militarizing it,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website. “We demand that the United States immediately take action to prevent such dangerous actions from taking place, and not damage bilateral military relations.”
But the Chinese gave no indication that they would take any specific actions in response, stating only that ……