China Blasts US 'Naked Provocation' After U-2 Spy Plane "Entered No-Fly Zone" During PLA Drills

In the latest tit-for-tat South China Sea saga, China has denounced the United States, lodging "stern representations" with the US embassy, over Pentagon attempts to spy on live-fire military drills over what Beijing claims is its sovereign airspace.

Specifically, according to Reuters, the US is charged with "sending a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane into a no-fly zone over Chinese live-fire military drills on Tuesday, further ratcheting up tensions between Beijing and Washington."

US Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane, file image.

China's Defense Ministry called the unpermitted U-2 flight an unsafe threat which constitutes “seriously interfering in normal exercise activities”.

The statement hinted at a threat as well, saying an “unexpected incident” could have easily resulted, which presumably means the spy plane may have been targeted as "drills" could have rapidly transitioned to becoming fully operational under a perceived US threat.

“It was an act of naked provocation, and China is resolutely opposed to it, and have already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side,” the Defense Ministry added. 

AP file image of prior PLA Navy live-fire drills in East China Sea.

“China demands the U.S. side immediately stop this kind of provocative behaviour and take actual steps to safeguard peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.

It's as yet unclear precisely where the incident happened, also given China's PLA military is engaged in multiple small-scale drills, notably in the Bohai Sea and some in the Yellow and South China Seas.