A Chinese fighter jet carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver near a U.S. military plane over the South China Sea in international airspace, the United States said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the United States’ military command responsible for the Indo-Pacific said the Chinese J-16 aircraft carried out the maneuver last week and forced the U.S. RC-135 plane to fly through its wake turbulence.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows,” the statement said.
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) May 30, 2023
A video showed a fighter jet passing in front of the U.S. plane’s nose and the cockpit of the RC-135 shaking in the turbulence.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, China has said that the United States sending ships and aircraft into the South China Sea is not good for peace.
Such intercepts happen occasionally. In December, a Chinese military plane came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Air Force aircraft and forced it to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace.
The encounter followed what the United States has called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.
The incident took place before China snubbed a request by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit in Singapore this week.
A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that since 2021 China had declined or not responded to over a dozen requests to talk with the Pentagon.
Relations between China and the United States have been tense, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to its military activity in the South China Sea.
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