Chinese media and regional sources are reporting what appears to be the biggest provocation yet amid the months-long US-China ratcheting tensions in the South China Sea.
"China launched two medium-range missiles into the South China Sea on Wednesday morning, a source close to the Chinese military said, sending a warning to the United States," The South China Post reports in a major breaking development.
The launch is said to be in response to the major incident from Tuesday, wherein China's PLA military angrily denounced that a US U-2 spy plane allegedly entered a 'no-fly zone' off China's coast while the PLA conducted live-fire military drills. It was unclear exactly where the claimed breach of airspace happened, however.
Later reports suggested the spy plane was caught seeking to observe PLA drills in the Bohai Sea off China's north coast.
The SCMP details further of the deeply alarming "warning" missile launch, citing unnamed Chinese military sources:
One of the missiles, a DF-26B, was launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai, while the other, a DF-21D, lifted off from Zhejiang province in the east. Both were fired into an area southeast of Hainan province and the Paracel Islands, the source said.
The landing areas were within a zone that Hainan maritime safety authorities said on Friday would be off limits because of military exercises from Monday to Saturday.
Needless to say this "warning" takes things to a whole new level.
“This is China’s response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming US warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea,” a military source told SCMP. “China doesn’t want the neighboring countries to misunderstand Beijing’s goals.”
After all, following the Tuesday incident Beijing in a veiled threat said an “unexpected incident” could have easily resulted over the US spy plane operation.
This presumably means the spy plane may have been targeted as "drills" could have rapidly transitioned to becoming fully operational under a perceived US threat.