Two US Marine F/A-18C Hornet aircraft made an emergency landing at an air force base in southern Taiwan last week. Since Taiwan is considered a renegade province by China and does not have formal diplomatic ties with the US, the public is questioning what the fighters were doing near the island and why the US decided to land the planes in Taiwan.
Some say the fighters were on a “routine flight”, while others say that the fighters were on their way to the Philippines escorting an EA-6B Prowler, an electronic warfare plane. The EA-6B could have been monitoring China’s training mission in the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines. The trainings involved H-6K strategic bombers armed with nuclear cruises missiles. Officially and according to the US Department of Defense, the fighters were on their way to Singapore to take part of the COMMANDO SLING exercises.
But, why Taiwan? The landings may be a response to numerous geopolitical events, which include: Taiwan’s interest in joining the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which will rival the US led International Monetary Fund and World Bank; the People’s Liberation Army’s assertiveness in the South China Sea by building artificial islands; and/or, a political signal from Washington to Beijing that the US is committed to protecting its allies in the Pacific region.
Beijing has called the emergency landing a “serious incident” and has asked Washington to abide by the “one China” principle. Interestingly, this is the first time in 30 years since American fighters have landed on Taiwan, which could suggest that the US military is testing Taiwan’s combat readiness.
**Or maybe… the US heard about plans for the Chinese to attack Taiwan and landed the fighters there to protect Taiwan. An attack on US military personnel would be an act of war against the US. Who knows?