China is moving to establish air supremacy in the region to secure its maritime interests and a recent intercept of a United States fighter jet was made to highlight that purpose, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
On Friday, the Pentagon described a recent series of encounters between US and Chinese fighter jets as particularly aggressive.
US officials said over the weekend that at least three similarly provocative incidents occurred earlier this year in the same general location, all in international airspace.
However, a statement issued Saturday night by China’s defense ministry said the Chinese jet kept a safe distance from the US planes.
In May and June, Chinese fighter jets also conducted dangerously close intercepts of self-defense force planes in the East China Sea, according to the report.
These moves indicate there is no change to Beijing’s basic policy of securing air and maritime supremacy in the South China Sea and East China Sea, experts said.
Meanwhile, Washington considers provocations by the Chinese military to have been made in an organized manner.
There are growing concerns such behavior may lead to an accidental military clash between the United States and China.
A Pentagon official said the latest incident was the most dangerous intercept since a Chinese military plane crashed in 2001 after colliding with a US Navy reconnaissance plane above waters off China’s Hainan Island in the South China Sea.
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