Here’s How The Chinese Responded When A US Spy Plane Neared Chinese Air Space

Chase Doak/via REUTERS

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Amid criticism that the Biden administration is demonstrating cowardice by not shooting down the Chinese surveillance balloon floating over the U.S., Americans are reminded how China responded when a U.S. spy plane neared Chinese airspace in 2001.

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced Thursday it was tracking a high-altitude suspected Chinese surveillance balloon the appears to be collecting data on sensitive U.S. sites over Montana. Montana is home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base, which houses Minuteman III nuclear missiles. Authorities have not ruled out shooting down the plane but have not indicated they plan to.

While President Joe Biden hesitates to show force, according to some on the right, when the tables were turned the Chinese did not hesitate to nearly take out a U.S. spy plane.

A U.S. Navy spy plane was conducting a routine surveillance mission just 50 miles southeast of China’s Hainan Island when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted the plane, forcing Americans to make an emergency landing in China, according to The New York Times. (RELATED: Trump’s Defense Sec. Pushes Back Against Claim Chinese Balloon Flew During Trump Admin)

The mid-air crash occurred in international waters shortly after the U.S.’s EP-3E Aries II aircraft departed from an air base in Japan. Then-Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Command Adm. Dennis Blair said the Chinese planes had begun closely tailing the military aircraft months before the incident, the outlet reported.

The American aircraft intercepted a message from China’s Lingshui air base indicating two Chinese F-8 fighter jets were nearby. Suddenly one of the Chinese fighter jets approached the U.S. aircraft from the left and flew just 10 feet away from the plane’s wing, according to The Intercept. The Chinese pilot, Wang Wei, allegedly saluted the American crew before falling back 100 feet, the outlet reported. Wei again got dangerously close to the aircraft before mouthing something to the American crew before falling back, according to the report.

On a third attempt by Wei to communicate with Americans his plane got caught in one of the EP-3E propellers and caused his F-8 to split in half, The Intercept reported. The jet fell into the sea. American pilot, Navy Lt. Shane Osborn, managed to stabilize the U.S. aircraft.

Due to the damage, however, Osborn was forced to land in Chinese territory, prompting all crew onboard to try and destroy as much data as possible, the outlet noted. The plane was met with Chinese soldiers who held guns and shouted orders before the Americans were taken to military barracks at Lingshui.

U.S. diplomats were prohibited from meeting with the crew until three days after the collision.

Chinese authorities detained all 24 on board and held them for 11 days during which they underwent intense interrogations.

They were eventually brought back to the U.S. after diplomatic tensions following intense interrogations.