• By The Financial District


Beijing has accused the US of sending a U-2 spy plane into a no-fly zone to "trespass" on live-fire exercises being conducted by China below, Brad Lendon wrote for CNN late on August 26, 2020.

The high-altitude US reconnaissance craft, originally developed in the 1950s, went into airspace Beijing deemed off limits during drills by the People's Liberation Army's Northern Theater Command on Tuesday, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

"The trespass severely affected China's normal exercises and training activities, and violated the rules of behavior for air and maritime safety between China and the United States, as well as relevant international practices," Wu said. "The US action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents."

A statement from US Pacific Air Forces to CNN confirmed a U-2 flight -- but said it did not violate any rules. "A U-2 sortie was conducted in the Indo-Pacific area of operations and within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights. Pacific Air Forces personnel will continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing," the statement said. Military analyst Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center, expressed doubt about Beijing's claims. "Flying over rarely -- if ever -- happens anymore," he said, adding the US spy plane's equipment is so sophisticated that it didn't need to get so close to monitor the Chinese exercises. The unarmed U-2 is one of the oldest aircraft in the US inventory. The first model, developed to monitor the military buildup of the Soviet Union early in the Cold War, flew in the 1950s. Those early models flew at 70,000 feet to stay out of range of antiaircraft missiles. But while height was the U-2's early advantage, it has received substantial upgrades in the decades since to keep its distance, too.