Diplomacy: Thunderbirds Over China

Thunderbirds Over China

High above Peking last week, the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds zoomed upside down and looped through the sky. The stunts marked the Chinese debut of the crack F-16 team. But the show almost did not go on.

The jets' fuselages are decorated with the flags of some 30 countries where the Thunderbirds have performed. Peking officials insisted on the removal of one flag: the white sun and blue canton of Taiwan, visited by the Thunderbirds in 1984. Reluctantly, the Air Force agreed, but only temporarily. After the planes left China last week, they refueled in Thailand, where the Taiwanese emblems were...

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