China fighter jet flew within six metres of US surveillance plane | South China Sea News

China fighter jet flew within six metres of US surveillance plane | South China Sea News

Video of the incident shows a Chinese J-11 jet flying dangerously close to a US surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

A Chinese fighter jet flew within six meters (20 feet) of a United States Air Force surveillance plane over the disputed South China Sea earlier this month, the US military said on Thursday.

On December 21, a Chinese J-11 fighter pilot performed an “unsafe” maneuver during an intercept of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft, according to the US Indo-Pacific Command, which also released a video of the incident. the incident.

Footage of the encounter shows the Chinese fighter jet flying within meters of the much larger surveillance plane’s nose, a maneuver the US said had forced its pilot to take “evasive” action to avoid a collision.

The United States said its plane was flying “lawfully” while conducting routine operations in international airspace.

“The US Indo-Pacific Joint Force is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with the safety of all vessels in mind.” and aircraft under international law.” the US military said in a statement.

“We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law,” the statement added.

In recent months, Chinese fighter jet pilots have been accused of flying dangerously close to aircraft, particularly those of some US allies, patrolling geopolitically sensitive sites in the region.

In June, Canada accused China of harassing its planes, which were conducting United Nations sanctions patrols along the border with North Korea. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the reports “extremely disturbing” at the time.

Australia also claimed that a Chinese fighter jet “dangerously” intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in May. The suspected clashes took place on April 26 and May 26.

A US military spokesman told the New York Times that the latest interception by a Chinese aircraft came amid an “alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial interceptions and confrontations at sea by the PLA. [People’s Liberation Army] planes and ships”.

“So this latest incident reflects a disturbing trend of unsafe and dangerous interception practices by the PLA that are of great concern to the United States,” the spokesman said.

A day after the alleged mid-air meeting, US officials said they were “closely” monitoring China’s military activities in the region.

“We continue to oppose any military pressure or coercion against our allies and partners in the region,” US Indo-Pacific Command said in a separate statement.

Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made island of Johnson Reef in the Spratly Islands group in the South China Sea are seen in March 2022 [File: Aaron Favila/AP Photo]

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite a 2016 international court ruling that Beijing’s claims lacked merit. The US has also rejected China’s claims to the resource-rich waters.

However, China has moved forward with building artificial islands and establishing a military presence in the disputed sea. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea.

In 2015, a defiant Xi Jinping said the South China Sea had been controlled by China “since ancient times”, although the claim is historically disputed.

The dangerous aerial encounter unfolded just weeks after China claimed a US missile cruiser “illegally interfered” in waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The US Navy denied the reports, describing the Chinese statement as “false”. China has previously considered US naval patrols in the Taiwan Strait a “security risk”.

Last week, China and Russia held joint naval exercises to “deepen” the two countries’ military partnership in the East China Sea.

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