TAIPEI (CNA) — An American P-8A maritime patrol aircraft was spotted Sunday operating over the Bashi Channel, a strategic water way connecting the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean, according to Chinese think tank South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI).
“Regular U.S. reconnaissance in the #SouthChinaSea of June 28, #AE68A2,” the SCSPI, a South China Sea movement tracker established by Peking University, tweeted at 2:24 p.m., referring to the P-8A.
“There is also a P-3C purportedly, but we can not confirm,” the tweet further said.
Both P-8A Poseidon and P-3C Orion are U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft with anti-submarine capabilities.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) declined to confirm the tweet, saying only that it is fully aware of any movements by foreign military around Taiwan and indicted there is no reason for concern.
Based on tweets by various aircraft trackers over the past few days, such as the Golf 9, Aircraft Spots and the SCSPI, this is the eighth consecutive day U.S. military planes have been in airspace near Taiwan, with the South China Sea as their destination.
A few hours prior to the tweet, the SCSPI also noted that the Effective, a U.S. ocean surveillance ship, was operating near the Paracel Islands and Macclesfield Bank in the South China Sea.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, earlier told CNA that U.S. surveillance aircraft in the area may be looking for any unusual activity by Chinese submarines in the area.
The Bashi Channel is a water corridor south of Taiwan, through which Chinese submarines have to pass when sailing to the Pacific Ocean from Hainan Province.
According to Su, once Chinese submarines reach the Pacific Ocean, particularly the Philippine Sea, they are capable of firing missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland.