WASHINGTON, Dec 29 (Reuters) – A Chinese military aircraft came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Air Force plane in the disputed South China Sea last week and l forced him to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace. the U.S. military said Thursday.
The close encounter followed what the United States called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.
The incident, which involved a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet and a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft, occurred 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 US military spokesman said the Chinese plane approached within 10ft of the plane’s wing, but 20ft from its nose, which pushed the US plane to perform evasive maneuvers.
The United States has raised the issue with the Chinese government, a separate US official said.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the past, China has said that the US sending ships and planes to the South China Sea is not good for peace.
US military planes and ships regularly carry out surveillance and travel in the region.
China claims large swaths of the South China Sea that straddle the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Trillions of dollars in trade pass through the waterway every year, which also contains rich fishing grounds and gas deposits.
In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in November, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed the need for improved crisis communications and also noted what he called dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.
Despite tensions between the United States and China, American military officials have long sought to maintain open lines of communication with their Chinese counterparts to mitigate the risk of potential outbreaks or deal with any mishaps.
The Australian Department of Defense said in June that a Chinese fighter jet dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May.
Australia said the Chinese aircraft flew close to the RAAF aircraft and dropped a “chaff packet” containing small pieces of aluminum which were ingested into the engine of the Australian aircraft.
In June, the Canadian military accused Chinese fighter jets of harassing its patrol planes as they monitored North Korean sanctions evasions, sometimes forcing Canadian planes off their flight paths.
Relations between China and the United States have been strained, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to its military activity at sea. from southern China.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August infuriated China, which saw it as a US attempt to interfere in its internal affairs. China then launched 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 Idrees Ali and Doina Chiacu Editing by Frances Kerry and Josie Kao
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