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F-18 jets' Taiwan landing likely a U.S. political message to China
【Politics】2015-04-02  21:44:50
Safety the reason for F-18 landing in Taiwan: U.S. military

Washington, April 1 (CNA) The emergency landing of two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets in Taiwan Wednesday appeared to have been a political message from the Pentagon to Beijing following a recent Chinese bomber drill near the island nation that is a key rival to Beijing's rule, according to a Washington Times news report, citing analysts.

This may be a simple "accident," but one hopes the symbolism is not lost on Beijing, the analysts said in the newspaper report, dated April 1 Washington time.

The Marine jet landings appeared to be Pentagon sending a political message to China, since the aircraft could have made an emergency landing at a less-controversial location such as the Japanese airfield on Shimoji Island, 193 kilometers east of Taiwan, according to military analyst Rick Fisher.

The newspaper also cited China's official Xinhua News Agency as saying that the bomber exercises, which ended Monday, were the first drills by China's People's Liberation Army Air Force in the "West Pacific."

China state television identified the aircraft as H-6K bombers -- upgraded, Soviet-designed nuclear-capable bombers equipped with cruise missiles.

The precise location of the bomber flights was along the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and Philippines archipelago, it was reported.

However, the report said, citing Paul L. Greenberg, a Marine Corps spokesman, that the pilots who made the emergency landing followed standard procedure and safely put down the the aircraft in the closest location where the weather was conducive to landing.

Tainan was selected as the emergency landing site based on its location at the time of the mechanical problem, according to Greenberg.

Under such a situation, "the welfare of the pilots, and their ability to land safely and quickly, was our primary concern," Greenberg was quoted as saying.

In related news, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chungying (華春瑩) told the media Thursday that China has made solemn representations to the U.S. government about the emergency landings.

Hua also said China will demand that the U.S. stick to its one-China policy and the principles of the three U.S.-China joint communiques, and avoid a reoccurrence of such incidents.

(By Tony Liao and Evelyn Kao)
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