The Chinese jet was never closer than 100 feet to the U.S. aircraft
, but it flew with a “high rate of speed as it closed in” on the U.S. aircraft, one official said. Because of that high speed, and the fact it was flying at the same altitude as the U.S. plane, the intercept is defined as unsafe.
The officials did not know if the U.S. plane took any evasive action to avoid the Chinese aircraft or at what point the J-10 broke away. It is also not yet clear if the U.S. will diplomatically protest the incident. Officials said the RC-135 was on a routine mission.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded on Wednesday by saying the U.S. flights are,
The source for relevant problems. The frequent close-in surveillance by the United States in China’s relevant airspace seriously harms China’s maritime security, he said. We demand the U.S. stops these kinds of close-in surveillance activities to avoid such incidents from happening again.
News of the intercept comes as Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are in Beijing for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Lew is pressing China to lower barriers to foreign business and cut excess steel production, with limited success.
The intercept also occurred just days after Defense Secretary Ash Carter and top military officials returned from a regional security meeting in Singapore. At a press conference during that meeting, Carter said the U.S. would not be deterred from maintaining a military presence in the region reiterating
America’s determination to, and resolve to, fly, sail, or operate wherever international law allows.
But this latest intercept comes on the heels of another intercept by China last month