Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Chinese jets flew dangerously close during intercept, United States says


The American plane was flying within in global airspace and thus in accordance with worldwide law, two USA military officials told the news site.

In that incident, the two planes flew within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of each other in the area of the contested Scarborough Shoal, just 230 km (140 miles) from the Philippine coast, media reports said.

USA aircraft in question has been used to check for signs of nuclear test activity by North Korea.

Zhou Chenming, from the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies think tank, said the Chinese pilot's "barrel roll" flying was likely meant to deliver a "strong warning" to the USA crew.

Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted an American military plane over the East China Sea, the US Air Force said Friday. China needs to do more research on the incident, Hua said.

Two Chinese fighter jets have conducted an "unprofessional" intercept of a USA aircraft, the United States military said on Thursday.

Last June, two Chinese J-10 fighter planes intercepted a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the East China Sea.

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Known as "Constant Phoenix", the WC-135 aircraft "sniffs" for radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere that are the tell-tale signs of a nuclear test.

The Wednesday incident is the second between Chinese and USA planes this year. An American official told CNN, however, that the plane has been regularly deployed in Northeast Asia to gather evidence of possible further nuclear tests by North Korea.

A similar incident occurred in 2014, when then-President Barack Obama said that Chinese fighter jets conducted an "unprofessional" intercept of a U.S. navy spy plane in global airspace over the South China Sea. The U.S. opposes China's territorial claims in the region, and routinely asserts its right to fly or sail in areas it considers worldwide seas or airspace.

"The frequent close-in surveillance by US military ships and aircraft is the root cause to the issue of China-US military safety at sea and in the air". This incident was interpreted as unsafe and also inadvertent by the Navy.

The Chinese interception follows a pattern of Russian planes flying dangerously close to US aircraft over the past year.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's senior government spokesman, said Japan had lodged a "strong protest", accusing China of "unilaterally escalating" tensions.

The Senkaku/Diaoyu chain lies nearly 1,900 km (1,180 miles) southwest of the Japanese capital Tokyo, west of Japan's Okinawa Island, and northeast of Taiwan. "This incident is an extremely serious breach of our country's sovereignty".

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