CNN hitched a tense ride on a U.S. spy plane over China's manmade military islands

China is building islands in the middle of the South China Sea, and CNN has photos
(Image credit: CNN/YouTube)

The U.S. military has been making surveillance flights over a series of manmade islands that China is creating on coral reefs in the South China Sea, and on Wednesday, CNN gave us a peek aboard one of the U.S. P8-A Poseidon spy planes conducting such flights. Jim Sciutto, CNN's chief national security correspondent, highlighted the international tensions created by the new military islands in contested waters, and by the U.S. military's more aggressive surveillance of the islands.

Eight times during the flight he was on, China's navy warned the P8 to leave the area, Sciutto said, even though, according to the P8 pilots, they were flying in international airspace. That is apparently pretty normal. It's also worrisome, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CNN. "China is a rising power. We're a status quo power. We're the big dog on the block," he said. "Are we going to move a little bit? Are they going to push? How is that dance going to work out?" All-out war in the South China sea is "not in their interests, it's not in our interests," he added. "But absolutely, it's a risk." You can watch Sciutto's report, and get a glimpse at the Chinese islands and inside a P8, below. —Peter Weber

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.