China threatens US with 'serious consequences' for 'trespassing' in Taiwan move
Beijing made the threat to the US just hours after the Air Force delivered “diplomatic mail" to the de facto US embassy in Taipei. China and the US have been at odds over Taiwan in recent years, with experts saying the South China Sea could soon erupt into a war zone.
On Thursday, A US 146A Wolfhound, typically used by Air Force Special Operations Command, left Okinawa's Kadena air base in Japan.
It landed at Songshan airport in Taiwan's capital at 9:32am local time (1:32am GMT) according to flight tracking data.
It then flew away from the island after 34 minutes at 10:06am (2:06am GMT), but China’s defence ministry was outraged by the US’ move.
Local news outlets said the flight manifest showed no passengers on the plane, which had requested a stop lasting no longer than 90 minutes from local authorities.
Beijing regards Taiwan as rightfully part of its own territory and has threatened to use military action to reunite the island with the mainland.
Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s ministry, said in an online statement that Beijing had expressed its "serious concern" over the stopover.
He said: “Taiwan is part of China's sacred and inalienable territory.
"Any foreign military aircraft that lands on Chinese territory must obtain permission from the government of the People's Republic of China.
"Any foreign ships or planes trespassing into Chinese airspace will trigger serious consequences.”
It comes after Japan has warned growing military tensions around Taiwan, along with the rivalry between the US and China, could threaten peace and stability in East Asia.
In Japan’s annual defence white paper, it said: “China has further intensified military activities around Taiwan including Chinese aircraft entering the southwestern airspace of Taiwan.
"In the meantime, the United States has demonstrated a clear stance of supporting Taiwan in military aspects, such as transits by US vessels through the Taiwan Strait and weapon sales.”
Earlier in July, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso suggested that if China invaded Taiwan “we need to think hard that Okinawa could be the next”.