Chinese jet 'made unsafe intercept of US plane'

WASHINGTON • A Chinese fighter jet carried out an "unsafe" intercept of a US spy plane on routine patrol earlier this week in international airspace over the East China Sea, the United States Pacific Command said, as China again demanded an end to US surveillance flights.

The intercept involved two Chinese J-10 fighter planes and a US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.

"One of the intercepting Chinese jets had an unsafe excessive rate of closure on the RC-135 aircraft. Initial assessment is that this seems to be a case of improper airmanship, as no other provocative or unsafe manoeuvres occurred," it added.

It did not say how close the Chinese fighter came to the US plane.

"The Department of Defence is addressing the issue with China in appropriate diplomatic and military channels," the statement said.

China's Defence Ministry said it had noted the report and was looking into it.

"Judging by the report, the US side is again deliberately hyping up the issue of the close surveillance of China by US military aircraft," it told Reuters in a statement.

"Chinese military pilots consistently carry out operations in accordance with the law and the rules, and are professional and responsible," it added without elaborating.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said such patrols seriously harmed China's security, and repeated a demand that they stop.

"China has the right to take defensive measures," he told a daily news briefing, without identifying the site of the intercept.

Asked if the incident had been timed to coincide with high-level China-US talks in Beijing, attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr Hong responded: "Ask the Americans."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese jet 'made unsafe intercept of US plane''. Print Edition | Subscribe