A Chinese plane came within 10 feet of US warplanes – US military

A Chinese plane came within 10 feet of US warplanes – US military

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WASHINGTON, Dec 29 (Reuters) – A Chinese warplane came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Air Force jet in the disputed South China Sea last week, forcing it to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace, the US military said Thursday.

The close encounter followed what the United States called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese warplanes.

The incident, involving a Chinese navy J-11 fighter jet and a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft, happened on December 21, the US military said in a statement.

“We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law,” he added.

A U.S. military spokesman said the Chinese jet came within 10 feet of the plane’s wing but 20 feet of its nose, prompting the U.S. jet to take evasive maneuvers.

The United States has raised the issue with the Chinese government, another US official said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China has said in the past that sending US ships and aircraft to the South China Sea is not good for peace.

US military aircraft and ships routinely conduct surveillance operations and travel through the region.

China claims huge swaths of the South China Sea that overlap with the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Trillions of dollars in trade flow each year through the waterway, which also contains rich fishing grounds and gas fields.

At a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in November, the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin raised the need to improve crisis communications and also noted what he called dangerous behavior by Chinese warplanes.

Despite tensions between the United States and China, American military officials have long sought to keep lines of communication open with their Chinese counterparts to reduce the risk of potential flare-ups or to deal with accidents.

of Australia defense department said in June that a Chinese fighter jet had dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May.

Australia said the Chinese plane flew close in front of the RAAF plane and dropped a “chaff packet” containing small pieces of aluminum that were ingested into the Australian plane’s engine.

In June, the Canadian military accused Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol planes while monitoring North Korea’s evasion of sanctions, sometimes forcing the Canadian planes to deviate from their flight paths.

Relations between China and the United States are strained, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights to its military activity in the South China Sea.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s Journey in Taiwan in August infuriated China, which saw it as an attempt by the US to interfere in its internal affairs. China subsequently began military exercises near the island.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

Reporting by Idreis Ali and Doina Chiaku Editing by Frances Carey and Josie Cao

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Idreys Ali

Thomson Reuters

A Pentagon-based national security correspondent in Washington, D.C., reports on US military activity and operations around the world and the impact they have. There have been reports from over two dozen countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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