A Chinese fighter plane had an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” encounter with the US-owned special operations aircraft C-130 last June in the South China Sea, a recently revealed intelligence announced.

“We’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea by PLA aircraft and vessels,” US Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin said. He added that the occurrence made by the Chinese side “should worry us all.”

This incident, which has not been disclosed before, occurred when Chinese aircraft engaged in more offensive military maneuvers in the East and South China seas in previous months, including jets belonging to Australia and Canada. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his disapproval of what he called the “behavior” of China in Singapore a month ago.

A Chinese Su-30 and an American C-130 were involved in the incident that occurred in June. Said one of the eyewitnesses, the aircraft that belonged to the US was a special operations forces model of the Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo aircraft. “Our aircrews frequently encounter safe and professional intercepts, and when it is otherwise, we have procedures in place to address it,” said the spokesperson for the Department of Defense, Lt. Col. Martin Meiners, who refused to elaborate on the encounter.

A C-130E from the 2nd Airlift Squadron, Pope AFB, NC, flies over the Atlantic Ocean along the North Carolina coast. The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the intratheater portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft can operate from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for para-dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. (Source: US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Howard Blair, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Austin said that despite interacting with a Chinese fighter jet, the US promised to continue flying and conducting operations conforming to international law. It expects, and he urges other nations to do so as well.

Recently, authorities from China and the United States have butted heads over Taiwan. Beijing views Taiwan as an integral part of the mainland and takes issue with the frequent backing that the United States provides to Taipei. However, according to the Taiwan Relations Act passed in 1979, the United States has maintained a close military relationship with Taiwan even though it does not have formal diplomatic relations with the island. This has allowed the United States to assist Taiwan in maintaining its capacity for self-defense for a very long time.

Last April, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her intention to visit Taipei in April, Beijing gave a notice that any visit would gravely influence ties between China and the U.S. Pelosi pushed back the trip because she contracted COVID-19.

According to Zhao Lijian, who functions as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, the act “would bring serious damage to the foundation of China-U.S. relations, and would send the wrong messages to the Taiwan secessionists.

“China would respond with resolute and forceful measures, and all ensuing consequences would be borne solely by the US,” Zhao continued.

China Claps Back

In response to the latest China-related remarks by the US Secretary of Defense, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference on August 6 that the perverted actions of some US politicians are unpopular. We urge the US to abandon the outdated Cold War mentality, arrogance, and prejudice. View China and China-US relations objectively and rationally. (Source: 中国新闻网CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, asserted that the actions of the warplanes of the US, Canada, and Australia are an absolute “provocation to China.” He warned the parties involved, telling them not to take advantage of China’s “restraint” while repeatedly putting China’s national sovereignty in jeopardy, the spokesperson said during a media briefing.

“We also urge the relevant parties to respect facts, refrain from abusing China’s restraint, and immediately stop any actions that endanger China’s national sovereignty and security in the name of implementing UN Security Council resolutions,” Wang expressed.

The Summit

During the session in Singapore, Austin chided China for its “coercive and aggressive” approach to defending its territorial claims in the South China Sea and for the strain it has caused. He also criticized China for its friction with Taiwan. He also said that in February, a ship belonging to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy pointed a laser at an Australian P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, placing everyone onboard in a precarious position. In addition, throughout the past few weeks, warplanes from the PLA have engaged in several risky “intercepts” of warplanes flying lawfully in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

These assertions were made after Australia reported the same struggle with the Chinese fighter jets near the Paracel Islands. A few days after Canada made a similar allegation, the Australian department of defense announced in June that a Chinese military plane had “intercepted” one of Australia’s reconnaissance aircraft in the region of the South China Sea. This happened when China’s armed forces have been “rapidly expanding” their prowess and exhibiting an “increased aggressiveness” over the past several years in the disputed waters.

The Canadian military also reported that Chinese fighter jets had harassed a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft observing North Korean activity at the beginning of June.