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Friday, January 9th 2015, 4:04am

OOC Unless it was accidental, this seems hard to believe from a deliberate Chinese action.

Regrettably, I have no problem finding historical precedents where China did exactly this sort of action, often with significantly less justification than what I am going to reveal over the next few news posts. The full story will emerge in time; and I have written it in such a way that you have the opportunity to draw alternative conclusions on the course of events.

I know the Chinese are seen as warmongers, but both wars they have been invovled in where not their fault.

That is open to some discussion. In the Sino-Korean War, I'd agree that, with all of the information we have OOC, we know they are not the first stone-thrower. IC, the situation is far more murky... and in the South China Sea War, China did engage in an aggressive military buildup prior to the war, and engaged in provocative behavior beforehand.

IC Australia grumbles about the French starting another war, that the Aussies will have to end.

What war is this? There's no war here. The applicable term is "incident".


Friday, January 9th 2015, 2:53pm

Synopsys of official statement by Palais de l'Élysée - Late Morning of September 29th, 1945
-- The aircraft involved in the incident was a Breguet-Nord N.1510 Normandie, a four-engine transport aircraft owned by (and marked for) the French Air Force, modified at the AIAI plant in Saigon with an extra fuel tank for greater range.
-- The aircraft had been one of two on loan to the Indochinese Air Defense Group (GDAI) since June 1945, as part of an agreement to train Indochinese pilots and crews in the operation of heavy transport aircraft. Of the two aircraft loaned to the GDAI, one was a standard aircraft and one (this aircraft) had been modified for long-distance flights.
-- The Normandie was under the command of Capitaine Nguyen Loc, with a crew consisting of an Indochinese co-pilot, navigator, and loadmaster. Two French officers, Lieutenant Colonel Antoine Canrobert and Capitaine Jean-André Leroy, were serving as instructor-advisors to the pilot and the navigator, respectively.
-- Six passengers (rather than five initially reported) were aboard the aircraft. Two were French army officers heading to Vladivostok, three were members of the French foreign service, and one was a Russian naval officer deployed to Cam Rahn Bay who had received two weeks of paternity leave. The Russian officer was added to the flight an hour before takeoff and was not on the mission list filed in Da Nang at the time of the aircraft's departure.
-- The aircraft's filed flight plan follows the same course used by Air France airliners to the Russian Far East and Japan, remaining at least fifty kilometers off the Chinese coast. Flight rules on French military aircraft restrict pilots from flying over foreign soil unless the flight plan is filed and approved with said nation.
-- The aircraft's departure was delayed two hours due to inclement weather at Da Nang.
-- Radio communications between the aircraft and the shore were very tenuous due to distance, although Capitaine Loc repeatedly asserted that his aircraft had been machine-gunned and damaged. Long-range communications in Da Nang, as well as receivers at the Japanese Miyakojima Air Base, picked up Capitaine Loc's distress call, but Capitaine Loc did not acknowledge any of the responses from Da Nang Control.
-- Due to the shared status of the aircraft between France and Indochina, there have been delays determining whether Paris or Hanoi takes precedence in dealing with the situation.
-- The French ambassador in Beijing delivered an official request for information within six hours of the aircraft's distress call, and was told "the Chinese government is looking into this matter." However, rumors about the incident began circulating in various circles in Beijing within that time, and at least one Chinese publication has already stated "an imperialist European aircraft intruded into Chinese airspace, but was intercepted and forced down by vigilant Chinese fighter pilots."


Friday, January 9th 2015, 3:52pm


"The Government of Iberia is condemns this latest act of Chinese aggression, and insists that the Government of China immediately release the crew and passengers of the aircraft in question."

Subsequent press reports note an uptick in aerial patrols by Iberian forces in San Hainando and Macau, and a greater presence of patrol vessels at sea in the vicinity of Macau.


"The Empire of Bharat urges a swift and peaceful resolution to this incident, lest lives be unnecessarily lost."


Friday, January 9th 2015, 9:03pm

The British are assuming from the official synopsis provided by the French government that the Chinese had detected the Normandie by radio-location given the aircraft was late so an 'ambush' was unlikely, presumably its transponder giving it away as a military aircraft rather than a civilian airliner. Given this incident has occurred on commercial air routes makes it worse, but it appears to be a targeted incident.
This assumes of course the aircraft is where the French claim it was and not actually photographing installations on Formosa or something of that nature.


Friday, January 9th 2015, 10:21pm

Synopsys of official statement by Palais de l'Élysée - Evening of September 29th, 1945
-- Although thirty-six hours have elapsed from the aircraft's first received distress call, neither Paris nor Hanoi has received any official communication on the matter from Beijing. President Theisman invited the Chinese ambassador to the Palais de l'Élysée and was informed "the Chinese government is looking into the situation". Similar responses have been received by the French ambassador in Beijing.
-- Requests by the French government and the Indochinese autonomous government to speak with the aircraft crew have been ignored by Beijing. The Chinese ambassador in Paris indicated that "he would pass on the request to his superiors."
-- The Chinese press, both in Beijing and elsewhere, has either ignored or played down news of the incident. However, a nationalist Chinese-language newspaper discussed the incident and claimed the aircraft had flown into Chinese airspace 'on some nefarious mission, perhaps to drop parachute secret agents'.


Saturday, January 10th 2015, 3:59pm


-- The aircraft's filed flight plan follows the same course used by Air France airliners to the Russian Far East and Japan, remaining at least fifty kilometers off the Chinese coast. Flight rules on French military aircraft restrict pilots from flying over foreign soil unless the flight plan is filed and approved with said nation.

The Philippine Government will make known its willingness to permit French and Indochinese military flights to avail themselves of facilities at Rizal Air Force Base if an intermediate fueling stop is required due to any change of route occasioned by this incident. The facilities of Manila's commercial airport, Nielsen Field, are also available for civil flights if they too must be re-routed.


Sunday, January 11th 2015, 10:31am

Within the corridors of power in Whitehall, their are stirrings that if another incident takes place which involves a civilian airliner of any nation around the Formosa area, then the Admiralty may send a carrier to patrol those international waters. An extreme plan perhaps, but one that is being mulled over pink gins.


Monday, January 12th 2015, 8:50pm

Palais de l'Élysée - 1900 Hours, September 29th, 1944
Comte de Rochefort, the eccentric chief of the Dieuxeme Bureau, hated leaving his office, being a mild agoraphobe. The Comte's eccentricities were overlooked due to his extraordinary capabilities in running the Dieuxeme Bureau. Normally André Dewavrin, as the Comte's deputy and closest confidant, usually took charge of meeting with both subordinates and superiors. But occasionally the Comte had to make an appearance.

de Rochefort settled in at the foot of the conference table. President Theisman sat at the head, with Prime Minister Monnerville on his right hand, and Defense Minister Lemarechel on his left. Next to Monnerville was Foreign Minister Ducharme, involved in his first major diplomatic crisis since he'd assumed the post three months prior.

"Shall we start now?" Theisman asked. After everyone nodded, the President gestured to de Rochefort. "Please brief us on the situation with China. I understand you have a hypothesis about what happened."

"Yes, Monsieur President," de Rochefort replied. He paused and arranged his notes, carefully arranging the edge of each page to be precisely parallel to the others. After a few moments he looked up again. "My bureau has been engaged in many attempts to penetrate the Chinese government, with the usual assortment of success and setbacks. Within the last eight months, I have been cultivating a source I shall refer to only as 'Cascade'. Information acquired via Cascade indicates the Chinese have two conflicting stories, circulating internally within their government, on the events leading up to the attack on our aircraft."

"According to Cascade, the commander of the Chinese air base at Lan Yu - or Orchid Island - states that our aircraft overflew the island and violated Chinese airspace. Upon the aircraft's approach, fighters from Lan Yu were scrambled in pursuit, and intercepted the Normandie as it turned northward towards Vladivostok. The aircraft failed to respond to the fighters' orders to land, and fired machine-guns at them in defiance. The Chinese pilots then shot out two of the Normandie's engines in, and I quote, 'self-defense'."

"I find that hard to believe," Lemarechel interrupted. "The Normandie in question was unarmed."

Monnerville nodded. "However, as we've discussed since the beginning, it is possible that a navigation error did result in them crossing into Chinese airspace."

"Correct," Lemarechel replied. "It's not like here in Europe where we're setting up radio-location beacons left and right for precise aerial navigation. There are far fewer navigational aids available, and thus the margin of error may be greater. These things have happened before - to us and to others - and it rarely becomes an issue. We just try to apologize, emphasize that it was unintentional, and move on."

Ducharme folded his hands in front of him. "Forgive the question, but it sounds to me like this Chinese version of events may be entirely probable - albeit with the understanding that the aircraft was unarmed. Perhaps the Normandie did in fact suffer a navigation error, and the Chinese over-reacted."

Lemarechel hesitated. "It is possible that is what has happened. Lan Yu Island is a very... sensitive area for China, since their Chemical Research Institute is located there. Given the level of security afforded to that facility, we believe it is used for the development and manufacture of chemical and biological weapons. The Chinese would certainly react quite aggressively to an overflight, since they would not know if it was intentional or accidental."

"The commanding colonel at Lan Yu, Colonel Jing, is also well-known as a very hotheaded officer," de Rochefort said. "But I don't believe that version of events is true. In fact, I believe it is a lie - one that the Chinese intended to tell from the beginning."

"What do you mean, sir?" Ducharme asked.

"As a result of information sources like 'Cascade', I believe the Chinese are attempting some manner of intelligence operation of their own. Here is part of my rationale. These flights between Da Nang and Vladivostok - they are regular, every few weeks. And they are often undertaken by Normandies equipped with long-range fuel tanks; and we only keep two of those in Indochina, this aircraft being one of them. But not always is it a Normandie. In fact, the last four months, a different aircraft has been making the flight."

Lemarechel twitched. "One of our Farman heavy bombers."

"Yes." de Rochefort nodded. "Specifically, one of the Aeronavale's Farman F.421s, the sea-surveillance variant with more range and the new AS.4 teledetecteur in the belly dome. From what we've seen, it's probably one of the most advanced teledetecteurs currently in service, with perhaps the exception of the British units we've heard rumors about. It is my belief that the Chinese attempted this attack in the expectation that we were sending an F.421 - as we have the last four months - in order to gain access to the radar set and the airframe for study. They would then reverse-engineer and duplicate it for themselves. In order to politically cover the incident, they planned from the start to accuse us of dispatching the Farman to reconnoiter Lan Yu, whereupon their hotheaded Colonel launched an interception mission and forced the aircraft down."

Ducharme looked thoughtful. "Their accusation of an overflight would bear a lot more weight if the plane in question was actually a surveillance plane like the F.421."

"Precisely," de Rochefort said.

Theisman spoke up. "Having seized the aircraft, what was the Chinese plan for dealing with the political response?"

"The Chinese know that we don't wish for a confrontation with them - at least not without very good reason. However, they planned to use their bureaucratic system to slow our attempts to recover both plane and crew. The Oriental mindset, of course, strongly resents any loss of face; and that mentality has been clearly demonstrated in how they have settled their last two wars, both with the Philippines and with Korea. In short, they expected to reach a solution with us in which we both offered a sort of meager apology - the wording of it to be carefully crafted - so that neither party had to actually acknowledge doing anything wrong." de Rochefort smiled. "And yet, when presented with the right spin and subtext, the Chinese would be satisfied that we'd admitted to spying on their territory; and we'd say exactly the opposite. Perhaps as a sop, the Chinese would 'reassign' Colonel Jing away from Lan Yu island to some ostensible punishment detail - a sort of Siberian exile - and then move him on to his reward."

Minister Lemarechel scribbled a handful of notes in a binder, and then frowned. "However, what the Chinese got was a cargo aircraft, rather than a naval surveillance plane." He paused. "While this theory does explain some things, what evidence do you have to prove it?"

de Rochefort paused. "'Cascade' gives us a... few hints into the Chinese internal dialogs. The upper echelons are reacting as if from a failed operation, with associated parties attempting to distance themselves from a failure. I cannot reveal much further without compromising further details about 'Cascade'. But there are other clues, as well. The first Chinese newspaper to report on the incident, only a few hours after the interception actually occurred, was a noisy mouthpiece for their extreme nationalist elements. The paper specifically noted that the aircraft in question was 'a sophisticated heavy bomber equipped as a spy-plane', which would apply to the Farman F.421, but not the Normandie. The paper corrected themselves halfway through their print run. I believe the newspaper received a timed 'leak' from Chinese intelligence - clearly part of their plan - only the information they received was mis-managed. I have many other indicators, as well - but nothing we can say in public to 'prove' our case."

"Is there a reason they tried this plan against us, and not against the British?" Theisman asked.

"The British are more likely than we are to respond with hostility to provocations like this," de Rochefort replied. "Our policy has always been to treat China with great care in order to avoid real or perceived insult, but in the past the British and the Commonwealth have taken more aggressive actions."

"They still have one of our aircraft," Theisman said. "And also the crew and passengers."

"Quite true," de Rochefort said. "And in this particular aspect, they have an even deeper problem on their hands - because the Normandie was commanded by an Indochinese crew from the GDAI, and not by the Armee de l'Aire. This close to the plebiscite, China does not wish for a confrontation with Indochina - since it is entirely likely to sway the voters. Fear of China's intentions is a major concern on the streets of Hanoi."

"Do you think this will have an effect on the plebiscite?" Monnerville asked.

"I think it will, but it will be statistically minor and therefore irrelevant," de Rochefort replied. "My political analysts believe most Indochinese have largely made up their minds one way or the other, and so this will only harden the resolve of decidedly Sinophobe politicians. I can't see it changing the vote by more than a percent or so, either way."

"One percent may be decisive," Ducharme said.

"An elementary deduction," de Rochefort said irately. "Or it may not be decisive at all. It depends on whose numbers you're listening to. If you're listening to mine, then I say it will not make much difference."

"So what advice do you have to give us on addressing the Chinese?" Theisman asked.

"My advice? Do not take too a hard line against China. While I am confident in my analysis, short of revealing our intelligence sources, there's no way to prove what we think their true intentions were. Nor for that matter can we prove that our aircraft didn't accidentally overfly Lan Yu, particularly as we haven't yet been able to interview our crewmen, and any statement they make while in Chinese hands will be suspect. Finally, give Hanoi an equal say in every discussion. That will continue to show our confidence in Indochina's autonomy, even if they decide to vote for full independence next month."

"You said you felt the Chinese didn't pull this stunt on Britain because they expected a more hardline response," Lemarechel said. de Rochefort fixed him with a gaze, and saw the Defense Minister toying with a hawkish suggestion. "Do you think a hardline response from us might prevent any further incidents of this sort?"

de Rochefort paused for a moment. "Absolutely, although it would represent a large-scale change of our political attitude towards China. But I don't feel the timing is fortuitous for that, nor is the gun in China's hands smoking sufficiently. I think in this case we must negotiate, stick to our normal 'soft' response, and bide our time."


Monday, January 12th 2015, 9:02pm

This, of course, is all out-of-character knowledge, at least at this point in time. Excellently done! :thumbsup:

It is good to see that the Comte de Rochfort is still with us. I had wondered if the eminence gris of the Deuxieme Bureau had perhaps shuffled off this mortal coil.


Tuesday, January 13th 2015, 2:13pm

Nice news item.