Date
21 January 2017
China has criticized increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia. Photo: Reuters
China has criticized increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia. Photo: Reuters

Chinese jets intercept US plane over South China Sea: Pentagon

Two Chinese fighter jets carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a US military aircraft on Tuesday over the South China Sea, according to the Pentagon.

The incident happened in international airspace as the US marine reconnaissance aircraft carried out a routine patrol in the area, Reuters cited the US Defense Department as saying in a statement.

The Pentagon is addressing the issue through military and diplomatic channels, it said.

The incident comes a week after China scrambled fighter jets as a US Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea after creating artificial islands while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

In April 2001, an intercept of a US spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on China’s Hainan Island.

The 24 US air crew members were held for 11 days until Washington apologized for the incident, Reuters noted.

Beijing blasts Pentagon report on South China Sea build-up (May 16, 2016)

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