Chinese official says jets maintained a safe distance from American aircraft; urges Washington to halt such reconnaissance activities.

China criticized Washington for deploying a U.S. reconnaissance plane near Chinese territory, but denied a Pentagon account that Chinese jet fighters conducted a risky close-range interception—the latest spat between the powers that fueled concern over the growing risks of accidental military clashes. – WSJ

Two Chinese fighters have carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a US military aircraft over the South China Sea, the Pentagon says.

The incident happened in international airspace on 17 May as the US maritime reconnaissance aircraft carried out a routine patrol in the area, it added.

However, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson denied any,

Dangerous maneuvers from Chinese aircraft.

Several nations claim territory in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Tensions in the region have increased recently, with China and the US trading accusations over military activity.

A U.S. military official says the two Chinese J-11 fighters flew out to intercept the U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft and came so close that they forced the pilot to descend a couple hundred feet in order to avoid a collision. The U.S. surveillance plane was conducting routine operations in the region. – FOX/SOFREP

‘Not true’

A military official quoted by the Associated Press news agency said the US pilot was forced to descend about 200ft (60m) to avoid a collision.

Later on Thursday, Hong Lei from the Chinese foreign ministry responded to the US allegations saying they were “not true”.

The US plane flew close to Hainan Island. Two Chinese aircraft followed and monitored at a safe distance. There were no dangerous maneuvers from the Chinese aircraft. Their actions were completely professional and safe.

The US defense department said it was addressing the issue through military and diplomatic channels.

Over the past year, DoD has seen improvements in PRC actions, flying in a safe and professional manner,” the statement added, using the initials for People’s Republic of China.

Read More: BBC

Featured Image – U.S. EP-3 Aries Labeled for reuse, Google Images