Yet little notice is taken of another Communist state despatching its warplanes in similar fashion – and risking conflict by default.
Several Japanese islands in the East China Sea are in dispute with China. And the Japanese air base at Naha, scramble on average more than once a day – and achieved a dubious record of more than 400 times last year.
When Major General Yasuhiko Suzuki was first posted as a fighter pilot to subtropical Naha in the 1990s it was a military backwater. Now the commanding officer, he says China’s assertiveness has made it Japan’s most important base.
Japan’s defences, particularly in the southwest islands, are being increased; they’re set to establish a new military observation unit on Yonaguni island, close to the contested islets.
Japan and China each claim ownership of the uninhabited islets - known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - that are administered by Japan. This dispute has apparently affected Japanese investment in China. China says it has records of the islands going back about 600 years and that it administered them until it lost a war to Japan in 1895.
Japan sent aircraft to head off foreign military planes flying close to its airspace in excess of 740, heading for the highest annual total since the end of the Cold War. While dispatches against Russian aircraft are back down after an increase last year, sorties against Chinese aircraft, have continued to rise.
China is probably seeking to glean data through its fly-bys, a similar technique employed by the Russians in the West.
Right now, the world is a dangerous place.
***Read about the old Cold War in two explosive e-books featuring psychic spy Tana Standish, published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
THE PRAGUE PAPERS - Czechoslovakia, 1975
THE TEHRAN TEXT - Iran, 1978